|Delegates attending the event on Wednesday morning in Hà Nội. Photo courtesy of the organiser|
By Ly Ly Cao
HÀ NỘI — Women’s role in trade is increasing as they contribute not only to the growth of the economy, but also the harmony and sustainability of society.
Globalisation has bought multinational companies and foreign capital into developing countries, including Việt Nam. These companies usually cooperate with local firms such as cheap suppliers, helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to actively join global trade and benefit from it.
Meanwhile, these SMEs tend to be owned by women or to hire more female workers, increasing women’s role in trade.
Speaking at a seminar on “The role of women in trade facilitation”, Lê Thị Ngọc Liên, USAID Trade Facilitation Programme expert on gender equality and economy, said: “More female participation in trade not only benefits the women themselves and their families, but it also adds more value to the economy by expanding a specific consumer market in which women act as owners, workers and consumers; at the same time, it increases social inclusion toward more sustainable development.”
The seminar, co-organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the General Department of Việt Nam Customs, was held on Wednesday in Hà Nội.
Female leaders tend to invest directly and trade in the retail sector, social services, education and healthcare, food, household services, commodities for kids, essential goods and fields that male leaders are less interested in due to low profit margins, Liên explained. This creates diversity in commodities and services for society.
However, despite their contribution to economic and social sustainable development, women still face disadvantages compared to their male counterparts.
Citing international research, Liên said that law and trade initiatives often ignore the specific needs of women, along with a lack of access to economic information.
“The fact is that some female leaders don’t even know that their commodities enjoy tariff exemptions, so they continue to do business via the third party, which increases expenses and risks,” said Liên.
Therefore, trade facilitation plays a vital role in promoting trade, benefiting every individual, especially SMEs’ owners, as it removes red tape to cut costs and wasted time. It directly or indirectly brings more advantages for women to participate in trade regardless if they are business owners, workers or consumers.
Recent reports showed that Việt Nam has made aggressive improvements in trade facilitation.
“Just within two years, from 2017 to 2019, we started from zero to become the top country in creating trade facilitation, especially for women,” said Liên.
Attending the seminar, Nguyễn Thị Thu Hương, Deputy CEO of An Phát Holdings, said that export revenue accounts for more than 70 per cent of the group’s total revenue, so it pays a lot of attention to trade rules.
The group’s revenue fell 8 per cent on-year in 2020 due to the negative impact of COVID-19, but bouncing back last year with a gain of 62 per cent to US$455,000, Hương said.
The Deputy CEO said that administrative procedures for import and export have shown positive changes, reflecting the great efforts of the General Department of Customs and related agencies in reforming and facilitating business import and export activities.
In particular, the promotion of the National Single Window and digital transformation in customs procedures has helped businesses reduce time and human resources.
“If before, we had to bring stamped documents to customs, now it's all done online,” Hương added.
“Moreover, this sector is undergoing some major reforms such as recently there has been a reduction in overlapping and duplication in post-clearance inspection and procedures for certifying goods passing through the surveillance area by the customs automatic management system, while the service quality of customs officers is much better than in previous years."
Nevertheless, there are still some problems. Hương proposed the customs authority study and shorten the time of probability inspection (possibly within ten days), enhance interaction between customs and businesses through dialogue, training and answering questions via the hotline number.
At the same time, the customs authority should research ways for businesses to store documents online and check in electronic form. And it is necessary to have a mechanism to supervise the performance of official duties and solve problems quickly and efficiently to boost trade and import-export activities. VNS