HCM CITY — "Drastic and comprehensive" measures are needed to solve difficulties faced by enterprises so that export growth can be maintained for the rest of this year, Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Nguyen Thanh Bien said yesterday.
He was speaking at a meeting held in HCM City to review export performance in the first half of the year and identify measures to boost it in the remaining six months.
Bien said the world economic downturn and EU debt crisis have adversely affected shipments of the nation's key export items. Many enterprises did not have enough export orders, especially long-term ones.
Importing countries have increasingly applied trade barriers on Vietnamese products, causing more difficulties for local firms that were already suffering from high interest rates and falling demand in export markets, he said.
Exporters will continue to face difficulties in the coming months, he said.
His ministry would petition the Government to fund trade promotion activities both in the domestic market and abroad to help enterprises find outlets for products that Viet Nam has had advantages in producing, Bien said.
He called for close co-operation among associations, industries, trade promotion agencies and Vietnamese trade offices abroad in carrying out trade promotion activities.
The country will continue to strengthen exports to the Asia-Pacific region, especially China, where there is high demand for many kind of agro-forestry and fisheries products.
The ministry has also drawn out measures to maintain exports of necessary products to the EU market despite the difficulties involved, he said.
Enterprises can now access loans at 11-12 per cent per year, much less than in previous months, Bien said, adding that more than 20 credit institutions that hold more than 90 per cent of market share have cut interest rates on old loans to 15 per cent per year as required by the State Bank of Viet Nam.
"I think this is one of the measures that will ease enterprises' financial difficulties in the remaining months of the year," he said.
However, he admitted that there were still enterprises facing difficulties in accessing bank loans.
Therefore, associations, industries, and localities should review the need for new loans or re-scheduling existing ones, and provide accurate information to banks so that the latter feel secure about providing loans to businesses, he said.
Le Phuoc Vu, chairman of the board of directors of the Hoa Sen Group, said that despite the reduction, interest rates were still high compared to other countries, affecting the competitiveness of local enterprises.
He felt that the Government should consider cutting interest rate further.
In addition, he also asked relevant agencies to strengthen checks on transfer pricing by foreign invested firms to avoid tax losses and ensure a fair business environment.
Delegates at the conference asked tax authorities to review value added tax (VAT) refund procedures.
Despite many difficulties in domestic and export markets, the country still posted encouraging results in the first half of the year, earning US$53.3 billion in export revenues, a year-on-year increase of 22.7 per cent, Bien said.
The country hopes to earn $109.5 billion from exports this year.
Later this month, his ministry will submit to the Government a proposal to support enterprises overcome difficulties in production and export in the remaining months of this year, Bien said. — VNS