|Frozen tuna stored at the Ba Hai Company in central Phu Yen Province. Tuna is among Viet Nam's exports to the EU. Vietnamese companies have been urged to carefully study the EU's requirements for imports to maximise business opportunities arising from the free-trade agreement with the trade bloc. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HA NOI (VNS) — Vietnamese companies were urged to carefully study the European Union (EU)'s requirements for imports to maximise opportunities arising from Viet Nam's impending free trade agreement (FTA) with the trade bloc.
The call was made at a conference that the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency held yesterday to seek ways for Vietnamese companies to optimise business advantages and expand further into the EU market.
Negotiations for the EU-Viet Nam FTA began in 2012 and are entering the final round. The agreement, which creates opportunities for Viet Nam to boost exports to a market of about 500 million consumers, is to be signed by year-end.
A representative of the European Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam (Eurocham) said negotiated reductions in tariff barriers alone will increase Vietnamese exports to the EU by 30 to 40 per cent.
The Eurocham official said the EU followed strict sanitary, phyto-sanitary, environmental and technical standards, and that consistency in the quality and safety of Vietnamese products would lead to an increase in exports.
Martin Buckle, an expert of the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries under the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at the conference that EU importers were keen to develop business relationships with companies that took the time and effort to invest in quality.
He pointed out that increasingly stringent standards were applied to all food products being exported into the EU, including the hazard control system (HACCP), the new food safety management system (ISO 22000) and the European Union's new pesticide residue levels.
According to the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production, the EU is a large potential market for Vietnamese agricultural products.
To tap the potential, especially after the FTA is signed, Vietnamese companies must carefully study the EU's strict quality requirements for imports, as well as the tastes of each sub-market in the EU, to set up appropriate export strategies.
Vietnamese companies should also pay attention to social and environmental responsibilities, the department added.
Official figures showed that the total value of goods traded between Viet Nam and the EU reached 27.6 billion euro (US$35.48 billion) in 2013, of which 77 per cent were Vietnamese exports.
Viet Nam's exports to the EU accounted for 19 per cent of the country's total export turnover, making the EU the country's second biggest trade partner. — VNS