A European Commission delegation visited Vietnam and Singapore in recent days. It was led by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Poland's Janusz Czesław Wojciechowski, who visited the two destinations in an effort to revive business relations, including trades in the fruit and vegetable sector. Joining the delegation was Gianluca Bagnara, agribusiness expert, vice president of the FAO's International Soil Biodiversity Network and representative of Assoavi and Aife.
"The purpose of the Commission's visit was to revive and reconnect relations, intensified with the 2019 agreements and then loosened because of the pandemic,” explained Bagnara. “Vietnam is growing a lot. I envision it as the China of 15 years ago, with a low average age and low incomes. However, there is an affluent 10 percent of the population, about 10 million people, who are looking for Italian products and have high spending power.”
Bagnara is third from the right. Next to him is Commissioner Janusz Czesław Wojciechowski
By contrast, the situation in the city-state Singapore is different. "The residents here, about 5.5 million, have an income twice that of Western countries like Italy. They import 90 percent of food resources and have high regard for Italy. Our productions are seen as high quality and secure in terms of health, thanks to our strict controls."
During the visit to Singapore, "I realized that high-quality fruits and vegetables and food products cost 4-5 times more than ours. To them, exotic fruit is Italian fruit, since what is exotic to us is local to them. A different perspective."
Bagnara and Commissioner Janusz Czesław Wojciechowski
One problem that characterizes exports to these countries is that each European country can debate about the rules, whereas there should be harmonization so that the standards set by the EU then apply to everyone. "I have also reiterated this concept to the Commissioner," concluded Bagnara, "but currently these are the laws. There needs to be a review of the EU-wide regulatory framework, so that these third countries have a single entity, the EU, as their interlocutor, and not 27 different countries."