Backlogged testing centers irking appliance producers in Vietnam

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Fridges and air conditioners manufacturers in Vietnam fear they will lose out in the domestic market as many of their products are not yet eligible to be sold by early next year but have to wait for a label of energy saving standard following a government request.

Phan Thien Thi, who is in charge of marketing for LG Electronics Inc. in Vietnam, said the company submitted its air-conditioners for testing two months ago, but the checks have yet to be completed, news website thesaigontimes.vn reported Tuesday.

Thi said at this rate of progress, a lot of refrigerators and air-conditioners will remain stuck at the testing center for the rest of the year, causing serious strain to producers in competition with the other whose products have already been approved.

"We hope another testing center for fridges and air-conditioners will be opened in Ho Chi Minh City instead of only one in Hanoi so that we will not have to wait too long and the management agency will not have to overwork," Thi added.

The government in September last year approved a suggestion from the Ministry of Industry and Trade that the electrical devices of domestic manufacturers and importers be required to meet standards for energy efficiency.

Now manufacturers are frustrated they must wait to have their washing machines, electric cookers and electric fans labeled as energy efficient before being sold, according to thesaigontimes.vn

The plan, which is set to take effect January 1, 2013, aims to encourage the use of energy efficient products and help consumers identify such products.

However, at present, it is causing enterprises to question whether the policy will be applied to only new products set to hit markets next year, or if it will also extend to ones that are already on sale--and if so, what will happen to existing products that lack energy saving labels.

Manufacturers claim the Vietnam National Coal Mineral Industries Holding Corp (Vinacomin) is overloaded with the monumental task of having to test thousands of refrigerators and air-conditioners all by itself.

It takes three to five days to check refrigerators and over a day to check air-conditioners. So far, only one producer has had all its products tested, they said.

Apart from refrigerators and air conditioners, there are two inspection centers for all other devices, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Therefore, producers say they will propose that the Ministry of Industry and Trade postpone implementing the scheme to until midway through 2013 so that they have more time to prepare.

But an unnamed manager from a Japanese import-export firm in Vietnam told thesaigontimes.vn that a lot of firms will wait until the last possible day, December 31, to have their products tested, which would only worsen the logjam at testing centers.

Phuong Hoang Kim, head of the Science and Technology Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said at the end of August that manufacturers of electric devices should have their products checked soon so that testing centers would not become overloaded.

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