Vietnam eyes Japan market potential for its exports

09:38 | 15/03/2018 Trade

(VEN) - The total export-import turnover between Japan and Vietnam reached an estimated US$32.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 13.8 percent compared to 2016. This figure stood at US$1.5 billion in January 2018, 18.6 percent higher than the same month in 2017. Experts say opportunities to increase Vietnam’s exports to Japan remain huge.

vietnam eyes japan market potential for its exports

US$500 million trade surplus

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam’s exports to Japan reached US$16.7 billion in 2017, an increase of 14.1 percent compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, imports stood at US$16.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.8 percent. As a result, Vietnam posted a trade surplus with Japan of US$500 million.

Vietnam’s key exports to Japan maintained growth in 2017, with garments and textiles up 5.4 percent, vehicles and spare parts up 12.7 percent, machinery and equipment up 9.2 percent, and seafood up 18.2 percent. Exports of mobile phones and spare parts almost doubled (96.1 percent), fruit and vegetables grew 69.4 percent, and steel exports were up 251.7 percent.

Vietnam’s imports from Japan were machinery, equipment and spare parts at US$4.2 billion, computers and electronic products with US$3 billion, and steel with US$1.4 billion.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam controlled imports from Japan in 2017, while promoting exports of key items to this country such as seafood, fruit and vegetables, garment and textile materials, leather and footwear, mobile phones and spare parts. As a result, the balance of trade shifted from a deficit of US$400 million in 2016 to a surplus of US$500 million in 2017.

Export prospects

The commodity structure of Japan and Vietnam is complementary and non-competitive. Japan is a large importer of seafood, textiles and garments, leather and footwear, and processed foods, while Vietnam mainly imports machinery, equipment and materials for production from Japan.

Economists say Vietnam’s export prospects to the Japanese market are huge, based on the two people’s cultural similarities, strong diplomatic relationship since 1973, their strategic partnership from April 2009, and the 2014 upgrading of the comprehensive strategic partnership. Japan was also the first G7 country to recognize Vietnam’s market economy status in October 2011.

Vietnam currently has two major free trade agreements with Japan, including the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) and the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA). According to commitments in the two agreements, thousands of goods are subject to a zero percent tariff.

Many of Vietnam’s agricultural products are exported to Japan. In 2017, the first batch of Vietnamese chicken was exported to Japan, marking a milestone in the country’s efforts to access the discerning Japanese market. In addition, the first batch of Vietnamese perilla was also successfully exported to Japan last year. Nguyen Quoc Toan, deputy director of the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the two events were breakthroughs in Vietnam’s continuing efforts to promote sales to Japan.

To further expand exports to Japan, Vietnamese businesses should continue to invest in new technologies in order to improve product quality. In particular, to conquer the discerning Japanese market, Vietnamese businesses should pay special attention to food hygiene and safety.

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), Japan was Vietnam’s fifth largest export market in January 2018, after China, the US, the EU and ASEAN nations.

Nguyen Hoa