Better benefiting from trade agreements to foster exports

14:30 | 20/01/2014 Trade

(VEN) - Ministry of Industry and Trade will in the near future accelerate the pace of negotiations on trade agreements in order for importers and exporters to better benefit from them, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said at a 2014 task implementation conference recently held in Hanoi.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang speaks at the conference

Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that despite economic difficulties and stagnant production, exports became the biggest highlight in 2013 reaching US$132.17 billion, growing by 15.4 percent on 2012 and leading to an export surplus of US$863 million.

These achievements were the result of export restructuring in the direction of reducing crude oil volumes and increasing processed exports and high-value industrial products. The success was also due to efforts to develop major items, expand export markets and make the most of opportunities from free trade agreements (FTAs). For example, the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA) took effect in 2009, exempting tariffs on 94 percent of Vietnamese agricultural, textile and garment exports to Japan.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and FTA partners accounted for almost 60 percent of all Vietnamese import and export revenues, about 50 percent of all Vietnamese export revenues and almost 70 percent of all Vietnamese import revenues. The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Export and Import Department Director Phan Van Chinh hoped that after the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the EU-Vietnam FTA are concluded, the markets in FTA partner countries will expand rapidly accounting for about 86 percent of all Vietnamese export revenues.

Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) joined six regional FTA agreements, including ASEAN FTA Agreement (AFTA), ASEAN-China FTA Agreement (ACFTA), ASEAN-Korea FTA Agreement (AKFTA), ASEAN-Japan FTA Agreement (AJFTA), ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA Agreement (AANZFTA), ASEAN-India FTA Agreement (AIFTA), plus two bilateral FTA agreements with Japan and Chile.

Vu Huy Hoang said that apart from these agreements, the industry and trade sector was continuing negotiations on several other agreements such as TPP, the Agreement with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the EU-Vietnam FTA Agreement. After these negotiations are completed, it will be more able for Vietnamese goods to enter partner markets as they will receive bigger preferences, particularly tariff preferences. For this reason, it is necessary to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of export and import activities and further develop significant advantages from trade agreements in the near future.

However, to make the most of these preferences, Vu Huy Hoang urged businesses to invest smartly to get ready to receive opportunities from FTAs, rather than let them go to foreign direct investment (FDI) companies, which are stronger than domestic firms. The Ministry of Industry and Trade will continue promoting information in order for businesses to better understand major benefits from FTAs. It will also invite businesses to FTA negotiations to hear their ideas and best ensure their benefits before these FTAs are concluded.

In response to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s recommendations, many groups and businesses in the industry and trade sector have actively drawn-up their business strategies and options to early meet FTA opportunities. Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) General Director Tran Quang Nghi said that to get ready to take FTA opportunities Vinatex had invested US$1.3 billion in material production factories /./                                                                 

By Phuong Lan