VIETNAM has provided interim approval to receive produce from Australia’s newly established Merrifield irradiation treatment facility in Melbourne, agriculture minister David Littleproud said.

“This will enable increased trade of table grapes and cherries and reduce transport costs for producers in southern Australia,” he said.

“Vietnam already receives produce from the Brisbane treatment facility and Australian farmers have exported over 10,000 tonnes of premium fresh produce to Vietnam through the Brisbane facility since its approval in 2016.”

Mr Littleproud said approval to receive produce from Melbourne opens more market access opportunities for growers and supports ambitions to grow trade in horticulture commodities.

“Vietnam and Australia have worked closely to expand the use of irradiation as an effective and safe biosecurity treatment,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Irradiation is becoming a preferred treatment for many exporters due to its speed, capacity and ability to maintain the quality of product. It is a chemical-free and heat-free process helping Australia continue to deliver sustainable, safe fresh produce.” Over 2019-2020, Australia’s horticultural exports to Vietnam totalled $142.2 million, including $39 million of table grapes and $10.8 million in cherries.

According to figures from DFAT, total merchandise trade between Australia and Vietnam in 2018-2019 totalled $12 billion, roughly split down the middle between exports and imports.

Vietnam is Australia’s thirteenth-biggest two-way trade partner, accounting for 1.7% of Australia’s total trade (by value).