by Xuan Hiep
HCM CITY — Viet Nam has great potential to boost exports to Australia and New Zealand, building on significantly improved trade relations with both nations under a regional free trade pact, a senior government official says.
|A farmer in the Cao Lang District in the southern province of Dong Thap harvests mangoes for export to New Zealand. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Van Tri
Chu Thang Trung, deputy director of the Asia-Pacific Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said in a report submitted at a seminar last week that the improvement in trade ties has been made over the last two years of implementing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
Trung said Vietnamese enterprises had many opportunities to export to Australia and New Zealand as these two markets have recovered quite well from the global economic slowdown.
The trade pact opened up further opportunities for Vietnamese firms to export traditional as well as new products to the two markets, he said.
He emphasised that Australia and New Zealand has been among the most important export markets for Viet Nam.
Australia's leading imports include machinery, equipment, computers, crude oil and telecommunication equipment, among others.
Last year, bilateral trade between Viet Nam and Australia reached $4.64 billion compared with $4.14 billion in 2010 and $3.3 billion in 2009, according to statistics from the General Department of Customs.
Exports to Australia reached $1.341 billion in the first half of this year, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the total export value last year.
Meanwhile, bilateral trade between Viet Nam and New Zealand reached $535.33 million last year compared with $475.61 million in 2010 and $320 million in 2009.
Exports to New Zealand reached $151.4 million last year compared with $122.6 million in 2010. First half exports in 2012 to New Zealand was $74.3 million, less than 50 per cent of last year's figures.
Trung said that although bilateral trade between Viet Nam and New Zealand was still low, the potential was high.
"Viet Nam targets wiping out the trade deficit it has with New Zealand in the near future," he said.
New Zealand had high demand for fertilisers, cocoa and mango and Viet Nam was capable of exporting these products to that country as it had many advantages in producing them, Trung said.
He said Viet Nam should diversify exports to Australia and New Zealand to increase value and competitiveness.
However, there are many challenges in boosting exports to the markets because, as of now, the market share of many Vietnamese products in these countries are small and unstable.
The strict quality, safety and hygiene requirements present another stiff hurdle for Vietnamese exporters as does the distance between Viet Nam and the two markets.
Yet another major difficulty, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, was they lacked information about these markets and their export potential, Trung said.
Trung recommended that Vietnamese businesses learn about the business customs as well as culture of these export markets as well as the lifestyle of consumers in these countries.
If they cannot have face-to-face encounters with overseas companies, they should seek information through websites to understand better their potential partners, he said.
Trung said "simple things can make a big difference."
Vietnamese businesses should respond to emails quickly during negotiations to gain the trust and confidence of Australian companies, Trung said.
He also said that for the Australian market, the brand of Vietnamese products did not really a matter now, but quality and prices would be factors that would influence buyers' decisions.
He recommended that local exporters take care and learn all they can about buyers in Australia and New Zealand. He said this preparation would enable them to save money and negotiate better deals.
Exporters of farm produce, seafood and processed food should pay attention to regulations on quarantine, packaging and weight of products in these countries, he said.
Vietnamese businesses should contact reputable distributors in Australia and New Zealand so that they can have their products supplied to supermarkets and other outlets to increase their market share and compete better with products made from China, he said.
Huynh Khanh Hiep, deputy director of HCM City's Department of Industry and Trade, said Vietnamese businesses should be patient and have a long-term vision for the Australian and New Zealand markets.
He said export businesses should contact the Asia-Pacific Market Department and the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade as well as Viet Nam's commercial attache offices in Australia and New Zealand for help and support in approaching these markets.
They should also contact local trade promotion agencies and associations for further assistance, he added. — VNS