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VN talks trade promotion in tough markets

Trade promotion in Viet Nam is facing many difficulties as many importers, such as the US, China, Japan and the European Union, were now protecting their own farm production.

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Workers of Dong Giao Food Processing Co in Ninh Binh Province process pineapples for export. 

Tran Van Cong, deputy director of the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), made the statement at a trade counsellors’ meeting in Ha Noi on February 8 to discuss strategies for enhancing farm exports.

The agricultural sector targeted a growth rate of about 3 per cent and export revenues of US$40 billion in 2018.

The quality and food safety standards in these countries have become stricter. As a result, it took more time, five to seven years on average, for Viet Nam to negotiate with them to open markets for farm produce, according to Cong.

Cong said in 2018, the agricultural sector would work to enhance market analysis and forecast capacity to ensure smooth consumption of farm produce and increase the marketing of key Vietnamese products in big and potential markets.

It would also tighten links with domestic and foreign agricultural businesses, remove technical barriers and solve payment difficulties for exports to Africa and the Middle East.

Agricultural Minister, Nguyen Xuan Cuong, said that as Viet Nam’s farm production had surpassed demand, the task was to maximise global markets and produce farm products of the highest quality.

Trade counsellor in Japan, Ta Duc Minh, said Japanese people highly valued many Vietnamese farm products, particularly mangoes and bananas.

The shipment of the first chicken meat to Japan also proved that Vietnamese products satisfied the demanding market. However, he noted, export prices were still high, especially for fruits, since they spoiled easily and shipment costs were high. He asked for solutions to reduce shipment cost in order to boost Vietnamese products’ competitiveness.

Meanwhile, trade counsellor to Australia, Nguyen Hoang Thuy, said the opening of the southern market was a long and difficult process. For example, it took up to 12 years for lychees to enter this market. Therefore, she said, it was necessary to hasten negotiations.

She said there was a need for better co-ordination between the ministry and the trade office to promote negotiations.

Minister Cuong also asked trade counsellors to not only promote trade, but to also provide more information on technology, culture and market trends, which he said was crucial for the agricultural sector to expand markets.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong asked the MARD to co-operate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s departments in expanding markets and organising exhibitions.

Vuong asked trade counsellors to provide information regularly. They should also regularly share market information with each other.

He said they should also study new technologies and help introduce them to Vietnamese firms handling agricultural products.

Aquatic exports

On the sideline of the trade counsellers’ meeting, Trade Counsellor to Russia Duong Hoang Minh said that more Vietnamese businesses may soon be allowed to export aquatic products to Russia this year after a Russian working group made a fact-finding tour of Vietnamese exporters.

Minh said Viet Nam’s trade office in Russia had earlier held a working session with local agencies. The move was made after Viet Nam was given a “yellow card” warning by the European Commission last September for failing to fight illegal fishing, which could lead to a drop in aquatic exports to the EU and other markets.

The counsellor said exports to Russia had encountered difficulties since the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), of which it is a member, limited aquatic product imports.

Currently, only 21 Vietnamese companies are allowed to ship products to Russia. However, he said there were more than 500 Vietnamese businesses eligible to export to the EU and other demanding markets at present.

Therefore, the trade office of Viet Nam in Russia has worked with the MARD to persuade Russian agencies to lift barriers to Vietnamese aquatic products.

It also invited relevant agencies of Russia and the EAEU to make fact-finding tours to Viet Nam in an effort to have more companies be allowed to ship aquatic products to these markets, Minh added.

In 2017, Viet Nam exported $2.2 billion worth of goods to Russia, up 35 per cent year on year. Commodities with high export growth included vegetables, fruits, cashew nuts, textiles-garments, wood products, machinery and spare parts.

The counsellor said the Vietnamese trade office in Russia will now focus on helping businesses boost shipments to capitalise on the Viet Nam-EAEU Free Trade Agreement.

It will also continue working to understand regulations and commitments in the World Trade Organisation and free trade agreements, as well as possible trade barriers. — VNS

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