Catching opportunities from Japan

09:52 | 09/01/2014 Trade

Taking advantage of the tight and deep relationship it has with Japan, Vietnam has proposed measures to promote trade. Vietnam Economic News’ Phuong Lan spoke with Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Doan Xuan Hung on the matter.

Catching opportunities from Japan

Could you briefly talk about the results of trade between Vietnam and Japan, one of Vietnam’s leading economic partners, in 2013?

In recent years, Japan has been one of the leading economic partners of Vietnam in a wide range of fields, from official development assistance (ODA) provision, investment and trade to labor and tourism. In 2013, despite the depreciation of the Japanese yen and numerous difficulties facing the two economies, bilateral trade between Vietnam and Japan reached about US$26 billion. This was an impressive result.

However, I think there are still lots of opportunities for Vietnam and Japan to boost bilateral relations between ministries, businesses and localities of the two sides. The US$26 billion trade result is small compared with Japan’s total trade value. I think that it won’t be very difficult to raise bilateral trade to US$30 billion or US$50 billion in the next several years if the two countries take advantage of their good relations and make the most of opportunities.

Although it has a high demand, the Japanese market has strict requirements on the quality of products. What do you think is the solution for this problem?

Japan has very strict requirements in terms of the quality of imported goods and its requirements are even stricter than those of Europe. When exporting to Japan, Vietnam had faced trade barriers related to the quality of goods. For example, Vietnamese shrimp exports to Japan were found to have antibiotic residues exceeding the allowed level. Japan pays great attention to food hygiene and safety. However, if they meet Japanese requirements, Vietnamese products can easily enter Japan and this will be a lucrative market for Vietnamese exports. Therefore, Vietnamese exporters must apply technical standards and examine the quality of products before exporting to ensure that their products meet Japanese requirements. In addition, they must maintain tight links with distributors in Japan. These distributors will be the ones to advertise Vietnamese exports and make them acceptable to Japanese consumers.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Japan has worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to seek measures to increase Vietnamese exports to Japan. On our side, Vietnam must improve the quality of export products. However, in some cases, we have to negotiate with Japanese partners so that they will not impose too many barriers on Vietnamese exports.

What measures will be taken in 2014 to promote Vietnamese exports to Japan?

To increase trade relations between the two countries in 2014, we will concentrate on several groups of solutions. Firstly, the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan intends to coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to send a business delegation to participate in a trade conference on agricultural, forest and aquatic products that will take place in Japan in 2014. The conference will offer Vietnamese businesses opportunities to seek partners to boost the export of agricultural, forest and aquatic products to Japan. Secondly, the Ministry of Industry and Trade will maintain relations with Japanese localities to intensify trade promotion activities in Japan. Thirdly, it is necessary to provide Japanese consumers with more information about Vietnamese export products. Fourthly, we will boost trade promotion cooperation between localities of the two countries.

It is vital that Vietnamese exporters must keep a close watch on market changes. The Vietnamese Embassy and the Vietnam Trade Office in Japan will provide them with more information about products for which the Japanese market has a high demand so that Vietnamese exporters can present their products. I believe the two countries will achieve better bilateral trade results in the coming time.