A French secretary of state was in Vietnam early this week to discuss the re-export of beef to the Southeast Asian country with local agriculture leaders, two months after a decades-long import ban on the product was removed.
Vietnam banned imports of French beef in 1997 over a mad cow disease epidemic in the European country and officially overturned the decision in May this year.
Martine Pinville, Secretary of State for Trade, Crafts, Consumer Affairs and the Social and Solidarity Economy, said France had been waiting so long for the ban to be lifted, as she addressed a press conference in Hanoi on Tuesday.
The diplomat visited Vietnam on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the import of French beef, as well as industrial cooperation and trade and craft exchanges, according to an announcement on the website of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance.
Vietnam was the last in the ten-country ASEAN bloc, with the other nine countries being Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, to lift the import ban on French beef.
Pinville talked with Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat on Monday and met with local businesses the following day to study market demand for French beef.
The secretary of state said she had presented 22 applications of French businesses for the relevant Vietnamese agencies to consider.
Pinville expressed her hope that the results will come in August and French firms will soon be able to ship their products to Vietnam.
Vietnam currently only allows imports of slaughtered, boneless beef from France, which Jean-Noel Poirier, the French ambassador to Vietnam, viewed as the “initial results” of good cooperation between the two countries.
The ambassador said the French side has to continue working with Vietnamese agencies so that more beef products will be allowed.
In return, France always welcomes exports of qualified Vietnamese products, he added.
Vietnam has opened its door to beef products from many countries, including the U.S., Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Agricultural trade between Vietnam and France has shown many positive signs recently.
The Southeast Asian country this month also lifted a ban on the import of French apples, which had been in place since 2012.
Pinville, the secretary of state for trade, said this was the result of a trip by Vietnamese officials to examine apples in France in July.
In the meantime, France now accepts imports of Vietnamese mango and litchi.
The French ambassador said France supports shipments of Vietnamese agricultural products to the country, so that the Southeast Asian nation can sell its products to the European market.
French exporters of kiwi are also hoping that their produce can enter the Vietnamese market soon, the ambassador added.
Trade between Vietnam and France grew by more than eight percent in 2014, according to the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance.
France is the second largest European investor in Vietnam.