The measures include relocating chemical trading facilities, building a center for chemical traders and filing criminal charges against violators of chemical trading rules.
The city has about 600 organizations and individuals producing, importing and trading chemicals. Illegal trading of chemicals has long caused concerns over food safety and posed fire and explosion risks in residential areas.
Phan Hoan Kiem, head of the Ho Chi Minh City market monitoring agency, told the meeting that 16 stalls at Kim Bien Market sell chemicals, including pigments, dairy and food additives. In addition, there are 93 chemical retailers around the market, with 59 of them selling industrial chemicals, 20 selling flavors and food additives and 14 trading both industrial chemicals and food additives.
Industrial chemical trading shops are primarily located on the streets of Van Tuong, Phan Van Khoe, Hai Thuong Lan Ong, Phung Hung, Go Cong and Kim Bien, according to Kiem.
The agency has detected hundreds of cases trading chemicals with unknown origin and those containing toxins, with 306 violations found in 2014, eight illegal trading cases with 27,807 kilograms of chemicals last year, and 15 violations in the first quarter of 2016.
The agency has passed many chemical smuggling cases to police for investigation and prosecution. However, illegal chemical trading in the city remains complicated.
Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade, said most chemicals sold in the city are industrial chemicals and buyers are mainly production facilities.
Hoa underscored the urgent need to have clear regulations on the trading of industrial chemicals.
He said Saigon Trading Group (Satra) is expected to complete a pre-feasibility study for a chemical trading center in late July and the authority of Tan Binh District has confirmed three land plots covering 7-10 hectares each for the center.
The center project should include relocation of more than 100 chemical trading facilities at Kim Bien and those in other parts of the city, Hoa said.
Ho Chi Minh City vice chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen said the illegal trading of chemicals at Kim Bien Market has been a pressing issue for years.
He stressed that the city government supports lawful chemical trading because there are real demands for chemicals and aromas. The city will rezone chemical trading at Kim Bien Market and other parts of the city, with a focus on districts 5, 10 and Binh Tan.
Tuyen told the industry-trade department to complete the plan to build the chemical trading center before June and call for eligible foreign investors to join.