HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam's agriculture sector must take advantage of global integration to increase its competitiveness and access new markets, experts said at a meeting held recently in Ha Noi.
At the meeting, Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat said the sector has been the bedrock of the economy, even when economic conditions were not favorable. In 2012, agriculture provided an estimated US$27.5 billion in export revenues to the economy.
Since entering WTO in 2006, Phat said farmers had become used to market rules, but are still vulnerable to changing conditions and economic shocks due to low-scale production, shifts in agricultural labourers to non-agriculture sectors and dwindling land resources.
The Ministry estimates that about 70 per cent of the population works in agriculture and nearly 10 million small households participate in the sector.
According to Phat, the Ministry is working on a draft project on positioning the global integration effort of the agriculture sector until 2020, with a vision onwards to 2030.
Priority will be given to supporting small-holders and integrate technology into production, link farmers with businesses and improve public-private-partnership models, he said.
US Ambassador in Viet Nam David Shear said Vietnamese agriculture could employ more people in higher-skilled jobs, while exporting higher-value agricultural commodities and play an even larger role in ensuring global food security.
Shear noted that the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations would increase Viet Nam's competitiveness and access to markets representing approximately 10 per cent of the world's population, and importing about 25 per cent of the world's food and agricultural products in 2012.
It was noted that the successful completion of TPP, as well as other agreements Viet Nam is negotiating with trading partners, will lower tariffs and strengthen the rules-based international trading regime.
"This further integration will open the door to investment in more modern equipment and technology, helping to modernise the agricultural sector and make it more efficient," Shear said.
Luong Hoang Thai, director general of the Multilateral Trade Department of the Industry and Trade Ministry, said challenges would include further reducing tariffs in agriculture and completely eliminating them by 2015, improving transparency of government agencies, while supporting businesses and associations by providing more access to information.
Further, Nguyen Lan Huong, a representative from Food and Agriculture Organisation in Viet Nam, said Viet Nam must focus on small-stakeholders in agriculture to help them integrate into the global supply chain and work with stricter requirements for products. — VNS