Ministry accompanies SMEs in EVFTA implementation

14:23 | 10/09/2020 Companies

(VEN) - The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) held an online conference on June 5 with representatives of more than 1,500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the country to discuss ways of benefitting from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). This was the first conference of its kind.

ministry accompanies smes in evfta implementation

An SME representative spoke at the teleconference

Adaptation to new conditions

SMEs account for 97 percent of all enterprises nationwide. Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said SMEs are “the heart of the economy” and highlighted the need to ensure that they can benefit the most from the EVFTA. He affirmed that state management authorities would accompany and assist the business community, in general, and SMEs, in particular, in taking advantage of the trade pact that entered into force on August 1.

EVFTA is a new-generation free trade agreement with the highest-level commitments Vietnam ever made. Vietnamese SMEs are capable of adapting themselves to the high standards and trading costs stipulated by the EVFTA commitments. Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the MoIT’s Agency of Foreign Trade, believes each Vietnamese SME can benefit from the EVFTA.

Luong Hoang Thai, Director of the MoIT’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department and deputy head of the government’s negotiation delegation on economic and international trade issues, said the EVFTA indicates very clearly the complementary nature of the EU and Vietnamese economies despite the great disparity in size. This offers Vietnamese SMEs opportunities.

According to Thai, unlike the US where protectionism is aimed at giant companies, the EU’s geographical indications protection system works to protect even households and therefore is suitable to Vietnamese SMEs. Moreover, Vietnam’s sustainable development commitments in the EVFTA reduce the dependence of Vietnamese companies on technical certificates, compared with other trade agreements that Vietnam signed in the past. Economists believe the EVFTA will benefit Vietnamese SMEs, contribute to Vietnam’s socioeconomic stability and help the country avoid conflicts of interest.

Tran Thanh Hai said the EVFTA also provides for sustainable tax reduction, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some products can benefit from the trade pact immediately. In the implementation process, the EU applies the Registered Exporter (REX) system that allows businesses to self-certify the origin of goods. Vietnamese companies should be aware of this advantage.

Coordination with localities

At the teleconference, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh answered questions raised by representatives of the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Vinasme) and local SME associations.

On behalf of the SME community nationwide, Vinasme President Nguyen Van Than said further efforts are needed to accelerate administrative reform; intensify the dissemination of information about the EVFTA; increase business loans to develop EVFTA projects and reduce bidding criteria to enable SME participation. Than also urged help for businesses in science and technology application, development of the domestic market and promotion of the nighttime economy.

Regarding a proposal to digitalize trade promotion, Minister Anh affirmed that the MoIT supports the innovation of trade promotion activities, and that the ministry is determined to build a national database on imports, exports, industries and some other components. He said Vietnam and the EU would cooperate in setting up an import- export database center catering for EVFTA implementation.

Addressing the interest of business associations in boosting handicraft and seafood exports, the minister reminded them of Vietnam’s sustainable development commitments in the EVFTA and warned them against violations that could result in hurdles like the “yellow card” issued for Vietnam’s seafood exports to the EU.

Regarding concern that the EVFTA will enable European companies to acquire Vietnamese businesses in key economic sectors, Minister Anh said the government, along with promoting investment attraction, applies selective policies to protect national interests. “Assisting SMEs in taking advantage of the EVFTA is the responsibility of the MoIT,” he affirmed.

The MoIT will coordinate with the EU and take specific measures to help domestic SMEs in technical cooperation, training and other fields within the framework of the new trade pact with the Europeans.

Quynh Anh