HCM CITY (VNS)— Domestic companies must improve their product quality to meet increasing demand of importing countries, speakers said at a forum held last Friday in HCM City and organised by the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of HCM City.
Nguyen Trung Dung, Vietnamese Trade Counsellor to Japan, noted that Japan, a key partner of Viet Nam, had strict requirements for quality, hygiene and safety.
"Seafood, fruit and vegetables, cashew, coffee, pepper, cassava, rubber and wooden products all have high export potential to this market," he said.
Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased strongly in the past 10 years, but it was still low compared to the expectation of the two sides.
Viet Nam's exports to Japan accounted for only 1.7 per cent of Japan's total imports.
Under the Viet Nam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, some tariff lines will be reduced to zero in the near future.
He said enterprises should take advantage of this increase exports.
With its high requirements in quality, hygiene and food safety, local firms should increase co-operation with Japanese companies to take advantage of their technology strength and improve product quality, Dung said.
Viet Nam expects to earn $15 billion from exports to Japan this year, an increase of 20 per cent over last year.
Advantages and challenges in exporting to Myanmar, Australia, the US and EU were discussed at the meeting.
Nguyen Bao, Vietnamese Trade Counsellor to Australia, said Australia had a high demand for imports of labour-intensive products such as garments and textiles, footwear, wooden products and seafood.
"Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $5 billion last year, with Viet Nam enjoying a surplus."
Bao said that to boost export to Australia, local firms must ensure product quality and meet food hygiene and safety requirements required by the market.
Speaking at the meeting, Herb Cochran, executive director of Amcham, said local companies had many opportunities to export to the US.
However, they must comply with strict requirements on product safety and quality as well as labour and working conditions set by the US.
Vu Cuong, Viet Nam Trade Counsellor to Myanmar, said many investment and export opportunities were available for Vietnamese companies in the market.
However, because foreign companies were rushing to invest in the country, local firms have to act quickly and must develop long-term strategies to exploit this potential market.
In addition, local companies must focus more on building brands for their products and companies.
Trade counsellors have asked local companies to reform export-promotion activities and conduct research on customer tastes.
Also speaking at the event, Tran Tuan Anh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, said despite many difficulties last year, Viet Nam's exports achieved a growth rate of 18.2 per cent, reaching US$114.57 billion.
Exports are expected to face many challenges this year because of the global economic downturn and the increasing number of trade barriers set by import countries.
In the domestic market, interest rates on bank loans have fallen but remain high, causing difficulties for local firms.
"However, in 2013, opportunities for increasing exports are available since the US, the EU and Japan have launched stimulus packages to increase consumption, which will indirectly create export opportunities for Vietnamese companies," he said.
The ministry will keep a close watch on the global economic situation, and will enhance co-operation with other agencies to provide information and export opportunities to enterprises, he said.
In addition, it will offer help to enterprises so they can take part in export promotion programmes that can assist them in expanding to other markets.— VNS