The fine art of meeting treaty challenges to handicraft industry

08:53 | 13/02/2020 Industry

(VEN) - The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has opened up significant opportunities for the Vietnamese fine art and handicraft industry in terms of reduced export taxes. Despite this, local businesses face a number of challenges to meeting the rules of origin set out in the 11-nation pact, as well as commitments on labor and environmental standards.

the fine art of meeting treaty challenges to handicraft industry
Vietnamese fine art and handicraft products are exported worldwide

Motivating force for development

According to the Vietnam Association of Craft Villages, Vietnam currently has 5,411 craft villages, including 1,864 traditional ones. Some 115 traditional crafts are recognized and practiced at over 2,000 craft villages nationwide, generating jobs for approximately 1.5 million people. The number of households producing fine art and craft products in rural areas has been on the increase in recent years. These products, exported to 163 countries and territories, are made of rattan, bamboo, lacquer, silk, and more.

According to experts, many handicraft products have sustained traditional values and created new brands in production and exports, which are a huge advantage in the context of Vietnam’s deep integration.

During a recent international seminar on the sustainable development of the fine arts and handicraft industry, Associate Professor, Dr. Dang Mai Anh, Vice Principal of the Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts, said the number of households producing fine art and handicraft products in rural areas has increased by 8.8 to 9.8 percent. Production value has grown 15 percent annually in recent years.

However, he added, under the CPTPP, enterprises have to meet stricter laws both domestically and internationally, which will help enhance their competitive capacity and take good advantage of domestic human resources. The institutional reform is necessary as a positive motivating force for further development of the industry.

The country’s fine arts and handicraft products will enjoy lower export tariffs to CPTPP countries, with some slashed to zero percent. The treaty countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam - comprise the world’s third largest free-trade region.

Chairwoman of the Hanoi Handicraft and Craft Villages Association Ha Thi Vinh said the CPTPP is a golden opportunity to open the market for Vietnam’s and Hanoi fine art and handicraft industry.

Labor laws

However, Ha Thi Vinh expressed concern that exports to CPTPP countries will exert additional pressure on many domestic enterprises, which will now have to navigate more laws and regulations. With most operating on a small scale, they will find it difficult to meet all the CPTPP regulations.

Associate Professor, Dr. Dao Ngoc Tien of the Foreign Trade University said apart from rules of origin, the industry also has to fulfill commitments on labor and environmental issues, especially the use of child labor. “The overall and long-term impacts of the CPTPP are positive. However, there are general, long-term or short-term effects, depending on specific products,” Dao Ngoc Tien said.

In order to seize the “golden opportunity” provided by the CPTPP, businesses and trade villages need to carry out detailed research of the requirements and standards of the member countries’ markets. They also need to create more product value and develop brands for their handicraft products.

Nguyen Hanh