Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Việt Nam is likely to reach US$70 billion of bilateral trade with South Korea by 2020, an official said at a seminar on export promotion to South Korea held on Friday in HCM City.
Lê An Hải, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Asia-Pacific Market Department, said bilateral trade between the two countries had soared 87-fold, from $500 million in 1992, to $43.4 billion last year.
Last year, South Korea was the third largest trade partner (after Hong Kong and mainland China) and the fourth largest export market for Việt Nam, according to the General Department of Customs.
South Korea is the largest foreign-direct investment (FDI) investor among 120 countries and territories with FDI projects in Việt Nam, according to figures from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
There are 6,130 FDI projects from South Korea in Việt Nam, with total registered capital of $54 billion, according to the ministry.
In addition, the free trade agreement (FTA) between Việt Nam and the Republic of Korea (VKFTA), which took effect in 2015, reduced more than 90 per cent of tariffs in a bid to increase Vietnamese exports to the country, according to Hải.
The FTA has created new export opportunities for more than 500 Vietnamese products, especially agro-forestry and aquatic products such as shrimp, crab and fish.
Tropical fruit, garments and textiles, and wood and mechanical products will also benefit from the relaxation of tariffs, he said.
Speaking at the seminar, Heo Songmoo, counselor for food & drug safety affairs at the South Korean Embassy, said the Korean market has a population of more than 50 million and high food consumption. Food trade between Việt Nam and South Korea reached $12 million in 2015.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Songmoo said food safety should match the country’s high standard of imports, which is equivalent to standards required in the United States and Japan.
“Improving marketing tools as well as packaging (attractive, with sufficient information about the product) should be a top priority for Vietnamese exporters in order to compete with Thailand and others,” he told Việt Nam News.
Meanwhile, Yoon Byung Soo, product strategy director at Lotte Việt Nam Shopping Join-Stock Company, said Korean customers preferred healthy, high-quality products.
Việt Nam should diversify its products and pay more attention to product appearance and packaging as Korean consumers are willing to pay more for those features, he said.
Nguyễn Minh Phương, a representative from CJ Freshway Việt Nam, said that Korean standards were very high, particularly for agricultural products, creating a tough barrier for Vietnamese exporters.
South Korea exports to Việt Nam are mostly machinery and equipment, computers, electronics and parts, raw materials for textile and garments, footwear, iron, steel and chemicals.
Việt Nam exports mainly textile and garments, telephones and parts, seafood, wood and wooden products, and footwear to South Korea.
South Korea has an area one-third the size of Việt Nam, but the country’s population is 51.44 million. Due to inadequate food supply from domestic producers, South Korea depends heavily on imports of agricultural products.
Việt Nam, one of South Korea’s most important trade partners, has great potential to become a strategic exporter of agricultural products to Korea, Phương said. — VNS