09:27 | 21/03/2016 Trade
(VEN) - “The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) needs to enhance its role as a bridge between domestic businesses and Vietnamese commercial counselors abroad. Businesses need to be more active in promoting trade as well as making plans for building rice brands,” Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said at a recent meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss measures to boost rice exports in 2016 and ensuing years.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh chairs the 2016 Commercial Counselor Conference in Ho Chi Minh City
Lots of challenges
VFA Secretary General Huynh Minh Hue said that Vietnam exported 416,770 tonnes of rice in January with the free-on-board (FOB) value reaching US$169 million. Compared with January 2015, rice exports grew 88.03 percent in volume and 70.99 percent in value. Asia, Africa and America are major export markets for Vietnamese rice. Beside these markets, Vietnam has exported rice to Europe, Oceania, and Australia.
According to Hue, Vietnamese rice exports in 2016 are forecast to continue suffering the impact of climate change, especially the intrusion of saline water into rivers in the Mekong Delta. Moreover, Vietnam has to compete with other large rice exporters such as Thailand, India, and Pakistan, as well as countries that have made strong progress in exporting rice such as Cambodia and Myanmar. Rice exporters compete on not only price but also quality and brand. Therefore, Vietnam cannot rely on its competitive advantages in terms of price as in previous years.
Vietnamese Commercial Counselor in China Bui Huy Hoang said that China continued to maintain a certain volume of rice imports from other countries in 2016. Therefore domestic rice businesses need to take the initiative in maintaining contacts with rice importers, building rice brands, and take stronger market access efforts.
According to the Vietnam Trade Office in the Republic of Korea (RoK), this country imports an average of about 408,000 tonnes of rice annually and under its new mechanisms, the RoK does not differentiate between rice imports that are used as food or materials for food processing, as well as rice imports from different countries.
Information support for businesses
Many Vietnamese rice businesses have yet to grasp information about foreign market demands. Can Tho City People’s Committee Vice Chairman Truong Quang Hoai Nam said that Can Tho planned to export more than US$400 million worth of rice this year. To fulfill this plan, he requested VFA and Vietnamese commercial counselors in foreign countries to assist local rice businesses in seeking high-value rice export contracts. Rice businesses in Can Tho very much need support in seeking access to markets such as the RoK, the US, Ghana, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia in an effort to increase exports.
According to Pham Xuan Hong, Deputy Director of the Industry and Trade Department of Long An Province, although Long An is a leading rice exporting locality nationwide, provincial rice businesses have encountered difficulties in accessing the Chinese and African markets. China is a large market but complicated political changes as well as its policy of purchasing rice for temporary reserve and quota allocation fees have had an impact on rice import prices. Vietnamese rice exporters need to seek updated information about all these factors to prevent themselves from suffering losses. Africa is a potential export market for Vietnamese rice, but domestic businesses have faced difficulties related to payment and so they need greater support from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the government.
Deputy Minister Tran Tuan Anh requested the Foreign Trade Agency under the MoIT to collect business opinions and work with concerned departments to take timely action to help businesses. At the same time, the MoIT will seek support from other sectors concerned so that they can take suitable measures to help businesses overcome difficulties. Deputy Minister Tran Tuan Anh proposed the establishment of a channel to provide businesses with information and consultancy, helping them understand competitive rivals and access overseas distributors.
Deputy Minister Tran Tuan Anh emphasized that rice was listed among prioritized Vietnamese exports, so Vietnamese trade offices and trade promotion agencies needed to support domestic rice businesses. The MoIT will pay greater attention to implementing international integration commitments while at the same time coordinating with associations and businesses to improve the quality of rice for export.
Rice is listed among prioritized Vietnamese exports, so Vietnamese trade offices abroad need to support domestic rice businesses
Mai Ca & Thanh Thanh