Although our meeting with the officials of the Plant Protection Division (PPD) of the Vietnamese Department of Agriculture was held on Friday the 13th , the meeting turned out to be one of the most productive and potentially successful ever. While the issue at stake, receiving approval from the Vietnamese Government for access to the Vietnamese market for fresh blueberries from America, has been the goal of the Blueberry Commission for more than 5 years, it has begun to appear that the granting of this access has been getting closer and closer. We did not receive any confirmation that access would be granted, but it does seem that we may be in the final stretch for the finish line. There are several additional steps that will be required before the market here will be open to us, but the signs are very positive. We are hopeful that access could be granted sometime in 2018. We left the PPD offices feeling very confident.
The remainder of our last working day of the blueberry trade mission was filled with additional visits to two potential importers and customers for Oregon blueberries. In both cases, the companies were owned and operated by a new generation of Vietnamese business people. Young (probably under 40), well spoken and fluent in English, comfortable with technology, which they incorporate into their business models.
The stores we visited were located on busy streets in busy neighborhoods. They were clean and bright with numerous refrigerated cases of beautifully packed fresh fruit of many different types. Signage was bright and full of messages about the healthy characteristics of the fruit, with plenty of lively artwork. The owners were all very enthusiastic about the possibility of introducing a large new source of blueberries and they all indicated that there was plenty of demand from customers. Access and customers, what more could we ask for!
It would be hard to imagine a more positive conclusion to our visit than this final business day. Our group will be heading home over the weekend and I will spend a few days in Hanoi as a bridge between the now concluded blueberry mission and the upcoming Trade Show in Singapore together with the Oregon Dairy Council. I’ll continue this series of blogs from Singapore, beginning on April 21st .
Barry Horowitz, former-Chair of the Export Council of Oregon, has taught and written on International Supply Chain Management, Logistics, Transportation and Trade topics for more than 30 years. He is currently working with the Port of Portland and other Oregon traded sector agencies to develop international trade strategies and programs.
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