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Vietnam taking global integration to the next level
September 16, 2014, 05:32 PM
To make inroads into non-traditional export markets, where consumers give first preference to Vietnamese products, the country has undertaken an extensive global marketing strategy on a number of fronts that is showing early signs of success.

In the eight months leading up to September, Vietnamese exports to the US jumped 22.5% when compared against last year’s corresponding period, tallying in at a record high US$18.5 billion, according to statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Other leading export markets during the eight month period showing marked improvement in exports include the European Union (EU) with exports of US$17.9 billion (up 13.3%), ASEAN region at US$12.4 billion (up 0.5%), China at US$9.8 billion (up 15.2%), Japan at US$9.9 billion (up 12.7%) and the Republic of Korea-US$4.3 billion (up 3.1%).  

Clearly much of this success can be attribute to the nation’s many intrinsic strengths, including a young labour force, abundant natural resources and political stability, to name just a few.

However, to take global integration to the next level, the nation needs to get serious about increasing national competitiveness, Dr. Tran Du Lich, member of the National Assembly’s Economics Committee says.

Overcoming the particular competitive challenges facing individual export markets is also a prerequisite to creating the next wave of growth and prosperity for the socio-economic benefit of all of its citizens, Dr Lich says.

Most notably, according to Dr. Lich, the Vietnamese manufacturing support industry has not sufficiently developed and as a result the country won’t be able to fully capitalise in the short-term on trade pacts such as the TPP or the EU-Vietnam deals when they come into effect in the not too distant future.

The support industry is the decisive factor in developing and enhancing the nation’s competitiveness in terms of price, quality and timeliness of production. Until the support industry is adequately developed in the long-term, sustainable global integration is little more than an elusive dream, he says.

Moreover, Dr. Lich says, in order to effectively compete in the global marketplace, technical barriers related to acceptable levels of pesticide residues in agriculture products as well as antibiotic residues in shrimp and other seafood must be effectively dealt with.

Vietnamese businesses in these industries cannot be complacent and need to clearly understand they must perform an appropriate due diligence in each specific market and take the initiative to learn about, comprehend and comply with the increasingly complicated regulations governing pesticide  and antibiotic residues.

If they don’t, or are unable to comply with these complex guidelines, Vietnamese businesses won’t be able to penetrate markets in Eastern Europe, Japan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the US or any of the proposed TPP member nations, Dr Lich says.

Dr. Lich cautions that this is no time for laggards.  Vietnamese businesses must address the competitiveness issues with a high sense of immediacy, recognizing that competitiveness is the catalyst in terms of driving export growth.

In other words, as it relates to the support industry, Dr. Lich says if domestic production remains inherently dependent on imported materials, it would be difficult if not impossible to raise the competitiveness of Vietnamese products to make a difference of any consequence.

Another significant factor putting Vietnamese businesses at a competitive disadvantage Dr. Lich says is that foreign invested enterprises in Vietnam benefit from brand name recognition of their parent company.

This same brand name recognition places them in a more opportune situation to take better, if not full advantage, of signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the TPP and EU-Vietnam pacts when they comes into effect, in comparison to domestic businesses, he says.

In contrast, domestic enterprises lack stable export markets and are at a significant competitiveness disadvantage.

The Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC) in HCMC has been innovative and proactive in addressing this particular obstacle to competitiveness and has carried out market surveys to identify specific markets needs and concerns directly with businesses Dr. Lich says.

Businesses involved in the export of garments and textiles, footwear, handbags, wood and seafood have also not been resting on their laurels and continue to vigorously promote exports in traditional markets for which they have earned high profits for many years, including the US, the Europe and Japan.

Vietnamese businesses need to take a lesson out of these businesses and ITPC’s playbook and aggressively tackle the barriers to national competitiveness of Vietnamese products, Dr. Lich says.

ITPC Deputy Director Ho Xuan Lam in turn said advertising and marketing activities are indispensible for domestic enterprises. HCM City is always seeking new markets and updates information for enterprises to bolster exports.

The city’s annual activities are designed to provide up-to-date export information and conduct surveys to facilitate business operations, he noted.

(Source VOV)


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