The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has advised that it has launched in investigation into alleged breaches of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) in Vietnam relating to Australian cattle.
In a statement posted to its website last Friday, DAFF said it had received a complaint supported by evidence and had commenced an investigation.
"The department has informed Vietnam’s officials and contacted the exporter implicated in the complaint," the statement said.
The initial complaint was lodged by "a member of the public", according to DAFF.
Vietnam is considered an important emerging market for Australia's live export industry, particularly in light of the severe downturn in import orders from Indonesia in recent years.
Work by the Australian industry and Northern Territory Government to open the Vietnamese trade resulted in the export of a shipment to Hanoi carrying 945 cattle in September 2011, which at the time was the first major shipment to the market in several years.
A further 7186 cattle were exported to the market in the nine months from July 2012 to March 2013, according to the most current export statistics.
Vietnam has not previously been a major market for Australian live cattle exports, apart from a short period in the early 2000s when a number of shipments of Australian breeding cattle were exported to the market. .
Northern Territory primary industries minister Willem Westra van Holte has predicted that Vietnam could develop into a significant export market of more than 10,000 head of cattle per year within the next two to three years.
Exporters and delegations of Australian livestock handling experts have worked in Vietnam in recent years to upgrade supply chains to meet the requirements of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, which involves improving infrastructure to allow continuous traceability and training staff in welfare, animal handling and dietary needs of livestock.
DAFF has stated that it is also currently investigating the alleged non-compliance of ESCAS requirements in relation to sheep exported to Jordan on June 20.
It is also "assessing complaints" recently made by a member of the public about alleged non-compliance with ESCAS in relation to sheep exported to Oman on May 17 and complaints made by Animals Australia alleging non-compliance of ESCAS and the Australian Standards for the Export Livestock in relation to vessels being unloaded last week in Israel on July 1 and 4. It has not yet been confirmed if these complaints will also result in a formal investigation.