The authorities in Lam Dong Province have sought government help to put a stop to false Taiwanese rumors about dioxin contamination in Vietnamese tea.
The Central Highlands province is home to around 3,000 hectares of high-quality tea plantations whose tea leaves are exported to the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Europe.
In a statement sent to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Thursday, Lam Dong People’s Committee said the rumor has cut the province’s tea exports to Taiwan by half in the course of several months.
Consumers in other countries have also grown hesitant to buy Vietnamese-grown tea following the promulgation of the dioxin rumor in the Taiwanese media, the statement said.
The provincial leaders called on the government to order ministries of foreign affairs, environment, agriculture, trade, and communication to inform media outlets and government authorities in Taiwan that Lam Dong's tea plantations are dioxin-free.
“In addition, we ought to launch a media campaign to set the record straight about Vietnamese tea,” the committee said in the statement.
Based on maps of the US' war-era defoliation campaign and other related documents, Lam Dong’s Military Command affirmed that the province's tea plantations couldn't possibly have been affected by dioxin.
Following this notice, Taiwanese customs agencies cleared 200 tons of Lam Dong’s Oolong tea worth roughly VND140 billion (US$6.5 million) last week after holding them for two months based on the spurious media reports.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Han Wen Te, director of Taiwanese tea firm Fushen, as saying the dioxin contamination rumor was spread to cripple competition.
Imported Vietnamese Oolong is four times cheaper than domestic tea, Han said.