|Workers at Ha Long Service Import and Export Joint Stock Co. make cakes. The FTA may have helped Viet Nam boost exports of textile and garment, seafood, wood products and processed foods to S. Korea. — VNA/VNS Photo An Dang
HCM CITY (VNS) — The 2007 ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement has significantly increased trade between Viet Nam and South Korea, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Le An Hai, deputy director general of the ministry's Asia-Pacific Market Department, said two-way trade went up from US$6.58 billion in 2007 to $21.1 billion last year.
It is expected to top $27 billion this year, he said at a conference organised yesterday by the HCM City WTO Centre.
The two sides have pledged to boost exports of Vietnamese farm produce to reduce Viet Nam's trade deficit.
South Korea is now Viet Nam's fourth largest trading partner behind the US, EU, and China, he disclosed.
The FTA may have helped Viet Nam boost exports of textile and garment, seafood, wood products, and processed foods to S. Korea, but exports of fruits and vegetables have not risen much, he said.
As an agricultural country, Viet Nam can supply all kinds of fresh and processed farm produce, he said.
Hong Won Sik, general director of Lotte Viet Nam Shopping Co Ltd, said Korea imports a lot of farm produce, but to penetrate the market, products must meet strict requirements set by the Government.
Kim Tae Ho, non-food director of Lotte Viet Nam Shopping Co Ltd, said however the Korean Government has monthly limits on farm imports.
Ho said Vietnamese firms should carefully study when they can export their products to South Korea and ensure they meet delivery deadlines since Korea has four distinct seasons.
They must also study the Korean Government's stringent conditions for imports, especially of fresh fruits, he said.
Despite low prices, the inconsistencies in size, colour, and taste of Vietnamese fruits have worked against their export to South Korea, he said.
Their packaging too cannot match those from countries like China and Thailand, he noted.
Their screening and hygiene standards must be improved if they are to be exported in larger quantities to South Korea, he advised.
Hai urged local firms to invest in production technologies to improve the quality and competitiveness of their produce.
Garment and textile, seafood, processed foods, household utensils, farm produce, and electronic and machinery parts are among products that can be exported to South Korea, he said.
He urged companies to carefully study demand, consumption habits, trade barriers and distribution systems in South Korea before entering the market.
Min Kim, director of Dole Viet Nam, highlighted the need to identify the right products to be exported to South Korea.
Hai said the two countries are negotiating a bilateral FTA, which, when it takes effect, would hopefully boost Vietnamese farm exports. — VNS