Dec. 5, 2016
In the first 10 months of the year, half of the imported pesticides came from China, accounting for a whopping 47.5 per cent of total imported value, according to latest statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
In November, Viet Nam imported some US$77 million worth of pesticide, bringing the total value of the product’s import in the first 11 months to $652 million – translating into a slight decrease of 1.4 per cent compared with the previous year’s same period.
Another statistic from the General Department of Customs revealed that VNĐ 20.5 billion (US$ 903,000) was spent each month to purchase pesticides from China – the use of which has repeatedly raised public concerns.
“Recently, 85-90 per cent of pesticides that Vietnamese businesses purchased have been Chinese products. This is not hard to understand since China is the largest producer of pesticide, accounting for 40 per cent of the world output. Not all imported pesticide products and raw materials will be sold or used domestically, a large part of them will be used as base materials to be mixed with other chemicals and re-bottled to export to other countries,” Nguyen Xuan Hong, head of the Department of Plant Protection, under MARD, said on the domination of Chinese pesticides.
Responding to inquiries over the necessity to import Chinese pesticides when such products can be manufactured domestically, Hong said that chemical was not the country’s advantage.
"To achieve a strong chemical industry, we must first invest properly in technology, infrastructure and human capabilities, all of which require enormous capital and years of implementation. This is not something that can be propped up and running in the short-term," he said.
Since the Vietnamese chemical industry remains weak in comparison with other countries, in addition to the fact that the production of pesticides pose high risks of toxic pollution, investment and domestic production of this type of product is actually not encouraged, he told Dân Việt newspaper (Vietnamese People).
Regarding the quality of Chinese pesticides, Hồng said no matter the products’ country of origin, the pesticides imported via official routes must pass Viet Nam’s standards before being used; except in cases where certain prohibited pesticides were illegally smuggled into Viet Nam, those cases were harder for the relevant authorities to regulate.
MARD is launching programmes to tackle this very issue of smuggling in addition to the selling and buying of pesticides that fall outside the state-issued list of permitted products, he added.
With respect to many people’s concerns that the actual smuggling of illegal imported pesticides might likely be much larger than what the authorities are aware of, Hong suggested that this concern is overblown, since tax rate imposed on imported pesticides is maintained at zero per cent, there’s little incentive for smuggling to take place.