Vietnam's recent removal of BSE-related restrictions on imports of U.S. beef is a welcome decision for U.S. beef processors, the U.S. Meat Export Federation's Travis Arp, Ph. D., said this week.
Arp, USMEF's technical services manager, said Vietnam reopened to boneless U.S. beef cuts in 2005 and added bone-in cuts in 2006. But in both cases, access was limited to beef from cattle less than 30 months of age.
With the latest change, Vietnam now accepts a full range of cuts from U.S. cattle of all ages, and U.S. exporters can now ship a full range of beef cuts and face fewer regulatory hurdles when serving the Vietnamese market.
For example, no USDA export verification program is needed, and segregation of cattle at the processing plant is no longer required, USMEF said.
"Packers and processors won't have to do any more segregation" by age, Arp said, reducing costs for packers. "In the same token, we'll have a lot of processors that do exclusively over 30-month cattle get access to this market, who previously didn't have it."
Vietnam still does have unique exporting processes, including a registration requirement that Arp said orders producers of further processed materials to register their facility and provide a description of product flows.
"That's an issue that stays in place and it's not incredibly cumbersome for the processors, but it's still one additional step that exporters have to go through for Vietnam," Arp said.
Vietnam also is a participant in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Full access to the Vietnamese market will allow the U.S. beef industry to better capitalize on tariff rate reductions that may be achieved through the TPP, USMEF said.