|Workers make mechanical items at Yen Bai Construction and Mechanics Joint Stocks Company in northern Yen Bai Province. Small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up over 90 per cent of all enterprises in Viet Nam, face huge challenges during the economic integrtion process including a lack of market information and skilled staff. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
HA NOI (VNS)— For the last two years, over 2,200 small and medium enterprises (SME) across Viet Nam have been provided with information and legal knowledge to help them become more competitive.
The effort was part of a project to enhance the capacities of SMEs, especially those in rural areas, after Viet Nam joined the World Trade Organisation six years ago.
It was organised jointly by the Viet Nam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Science Institute for SMEs and the Beyond WTO Programme.
Under the project, 23 SME consultancy offices were set up at association branches in 23 provinces nationwide, including Thai Binh, Hung Yen, Nghe An, Dak Nong and HCM City.
Association vice president Dinh Hanh said that in the past, when enterprises sought help from the association in terms of tax policy, capital and market information, the branches had to rely on other agencies.
But now, all would be available at consultancy offices.
Project director Pham The Hung said SMEs in rural areas were in need of advice on capital access, technology application, trade promotion and legal documents about Viet Nam's commitments when joining the WTO, as well as international law.
"The project also offered training courses for businessmen and consultants at SME consultancy offices while developing an online database that helped them better access information," he said.
The online database, or "online integration library" as it was known provided nearly 3,000 documents about economic integration, domestic and international regulations and policies, business start-ups, business governance and market studies.
Dr Nguyen Nghia, from the Viet Nam Intellectual Property Association, said information access was vital for enterprises if they were to become innovative and more competitive.
Challenges in global economic integration should be viewed as a motivation for growth, Nghia said, emphasising that when equipped with better understanding, enterprises could make use of information and apply higher technology to add more value.
Assistant Professor Nguyen Manh Huan, of the National Economics University, said the SME consultancy offices could help boost links between enterprises, policymakers and research institutions, including universities.
Such a network of offices would help share information and other resources, he said.
The project costing around US$290,000 was implemented in November 2011, as part of the Beyond WTO Programme, and funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the UK Department for International Development. — VNS