Vietnam, Malaysia seek to increase value of agricultural products

15:06 | 05/10/2017 Vietnam - Asean

Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong and Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong held talks in Hanoi, on October 3rd to discuss measures to facilitate their potential for cooperation, exploit advantages, and create favourable conditions for the promotion of agricultural products from both sides.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong and Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong hold talks in Hanoi on October 3 - Credit: omard.gov.vn

Currently, Malaysia's agricultural sector contributes 11% to the national GDP and accounts for 16% of the workforce. Meanwhile, 70% of Vietnam's population lives in rural areas, of which farming is their main source of income. Although the agricultural sector contributes just 18% to Vietnam’s GDP, the employment rate in this sector accounts for 43% of the total workforce.

According to Minister Cuong, both countries attach significant importance to products with high value for export; in particular, if the two cooperate effectively, they could open a large market not only within ASEAN but also internationally.

Therefore, the host minister proposed two groups of issues that the countries can exchange cooperation in, including complementing each other in the overlapping product groups in order to add value and expand their business to the world market, while giving priority to the development of a number of typical commodity groups depending on the situation of each country.

In relation to the issue, the Malaysian minister said that his country has a strong export base for palm oil, rubber and pepper, and especially highly-processed commodities. Malaysia is importing raw rubber from Vietnam to produce medical gloves - the largest product of the Malaysian rubber industry.

According to Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Malaysian producers in rubber and pepper are interested in the Vietnamese market. Malaysia is currently chairing the International Tripartite Rubber Council (including Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia), aiming to ensure that rubber prices are kept stable. He expressed his wish that Vietnam would become a member of the council soon and invited the country to attend its forthcoming meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Agricultural Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong (R) and Malaysian Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong agree on a number of directions to boost the two countries’ agricultural sectors - Credit: omard.gov.vn

With regards to pepper, the guest said that ten years ago Vietnamese delegations went to Malaysia to learn about the country’s pepper production. So far, pepper production in Vietnam has been five times higher than Malaysia's. Both are in the process of agricultural industrialisation therefore both sides should focus on cooperation that will be beneficial to both countries, affirmed Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

Regarding cooperation in the rubber sector, Minister Cuong expressed his hope that Malaysian enterprises would continue buying raw rubber products from Vietnam for processing. In addition, Malaysia can introduce businesses to research and process rubber in Vietnam.

He said that pepper production in Vietnam accounts for 55% of the world, but the value added is still low. Therefore, the Minister proposed that Malaysia – the leading country in terms of processed pepper products – studies and promotes the development of varieties and methods of cultivation, especially organic farming and the processing of pepper products to bring about higher added value for both parties.

In addition, Minister Cuong said that Vietnam also wants to learn from Malaysia's experience in breeding and technologies for coconut cultivation.

With various opportunities for business cooperation in agriculture, the head of Vietnam's agricultural sector expressed his wish that, by 2020, two-way trade in agriculture would increase to US$1 billion, contributing to achieving the target of lifting total two-way trade between Vietnam and Malaysia to US$15 billion by 2020.

Theo NDO