Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, director of the WTO Centre, under the VCCI, spoke to the newspaper Hai Quan (Customs) on the need to use protectionism in international trade.
What are your assessments on Vietnamese enterprises' use of trade protectionism tools?
The Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched a study on Vietnamese enterprises' use of trade protectionism tools, including measures on anti-dumping, subsidising and protectionism. Results of that study showed that Vietnamese enterprises had used those tools only four times. Only one case was on anti-dumping while the others were against protectionism. Meanwhile, foreign companies on 70 occasions petitioned their Vietnamese enterprises on anti-dumping, 17 cases on trade protectionism and 7 cases on anti-subsidising abroad.
These figures show that the use of protectionism tools by Vietnamese enterprises is still very modest.
Don't you think that these figures are an indication that foreign enterprises have more expertise in using trade protectionism tools than their Vietnamese peers?
In the study, we also tried to look for reasons that prevented Vietnamese enterprises from using protectionism tools. The key reason was that most of the enterprises didn't know in depth about these tools. Between 60 to 70 percent of the enterprises have heard about them, but they didn't know how to use the tools to ensure that they would be the winners, not the losers.
As we all know, trade protectionism tools are not free of charge. Furthermore, to use them the enterprises have to follow certain rules and procedures, including the collection of evidence and money to hire lawyers in the lawsuits.
What do you think about the possibility of Vietnamese lawyers winning lawsuits?
In these lawsuits, it requires the lawyers be knowledgeable and have high expertise in working with suits. This is a limitation for Viet Nam. But I'm confident that a good co-operation between Vietnamese lawyers and their foreign associates would help Vietnamese enterprises in such suits.
I'm confident that experiences gained from the suits filed by foreign companies against Vietnamese for anti-dumping, protectionism and anti-subsidies abroad will help Vietnamese lawyers to become more mature in their professional practice and gain more experience in helping Vietnamese enterprises.
Before launching a trade suit, Vietnamese enterprises have to think carefully about their gains and losses. Do you support the argument?
In any lawsuit on trade protectionism, there is always a winner and a loser.
If the enterprise loses, it will only lose the money it invests in the suit. But what I want to emphasise here is that the protectionism tool is designed to protect the legal interests of Vietnamese enterprises, but on the other hand, it may somehow infringe upon the consumers' interest. In my opinion, these interests should be considered carefully.
Of course, from the perspective of an investigation agency, they have to consider carefully the benefits that the suit will bring about to Vietnamese producers and to relevant parties as well.
What do you think about the potential usage of a protectionism tool in the context of international integration?
Viet Nam has been a signatory to many international free trade agreements so trade tariffs will gradually be lifted. As a result, Viet Nam will be flooded with foreign goods. In that situation, Vietnamese enterprises have to use trade protectionism tools to protect their own products in case they need to.
However, to use these protectionism tools, Vietnamese enterprises should take pro-active measures to look for information they need and ask for help from the VCCI and professional associations as well as government agencies. — VNS