Agricultural Trade Promotion Centre director Dao Van Ho spoke to the publication Hai Quan (Customs) about ways to boost the sales of farm produce overseas.
Few Vietnamese agricultural products have successfully entered the world market. Is this because of poor quality or inadequate trade promotion?
Statistics for agricultural exports in 2010-11 were quite positive. They reached US$19.15 billion in 2010, an increase of 22 per cent over 2009, and rose to $25 billion in 2011. The encouraging turnover was the result of both higher export quantities and rising prices on international markets.
However, compared with products from other countries, the export value of many Vietnamese products remains low. It is because our products have short-comings – bad preservation, monotonous varieties, and most of the exports are raw or only preliminarily processed, which results in low added value. The scale of production remains small, which explains why we haven't been able to create trademarks strong enough to compete on the world market.
Poor trade promotion has also led to the low export value of agricultural products. For a long time, trade promotion did not receive proper attention, and farmers are used to working without market orientation, so products are harvested and processed without attention to international standards.
How have exporters been supported with market information and forecasts and helped to understand global trade barriers?
Trade promotion in recent years has been divided into different categories, including participation in international expositions, organisation of international workshops, market surveys and market information, and training. This has clearly helped enterprises join suitable programmes. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Government have also created favourable conditions for enterprises to conduct their market surveys and provide market information.
For instance, 24 out of 86 national trade promotion programmes in 2010 and 16 out of 50 in 2011 were in information dissemination and training. Many enterprises benefited from these programmes, improving products standards and designs, technological application and production capacity.
What role do enterprises play in trade promotion of agricultural products?
Trade promotion programmes are partly based on State market surveys and analysis, as well as on the demands of enterprises themselves. Enterprises play a very important role in these programmes, and many active enterprises have already taken the lead in joining trade promotion programmes organised by the State or trade associations. However, many others have not realised the importance of trade promotion, leading to poorly prepared and ineffective promotion campaigns. This wastes opportunities that could have been given to other enterprises. — VNS