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Trade counsellors a vital bridge: PM

Update: February, 08/2018 - 08:00
The Vietnamese Dragon Fruit Day in Australia in 2017. Việt Nam’s trade office in Australia actively contributed to promoting exports of the product to the market. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has urged trade counsellors to assist domestic businesses by providing information about foreign markets, promoting trade and investment activities, and increasing sales of Vietnamese products abroad.  

The PM made the request at the Commercial Counsellors’ Conference in Hà Nội yesterday. It was attended by Vietnamese counsellors from 57 trade offices and seven branches abroad together with representatives from ministries and enterprises. 

He said the country’s import-export turnover reached US$425 billion in 2017, a positive outcome significantly aided by Vietnamese trade offices abroad, adding that Việt Nam had 21 products with more than $1 billion export turnover and many others worth tens of billions of dollars. 

The Government is setting export-turnover targets for key commodities, such as rice, shrimp, medicine, vegetables and fruit. This is why it wants to hear proposals of counsellors to promote the trade. 

Phúc has urged trade counsellors to assist domestic businesses by providing information about foreign markets, promoting trade and investment activities, and increasing sales of Vietnamese products abroad. 

Highlighting the hunt for markets as difficult, he said: “If we can find good markets to take Vietnamese goods and the two sides share mutual benefits, domestic businesses will be able to expand production.” 

The PM told of trade counsellors in the US and Japan who had good relationships with authorities in foreign countries who not only had knowledge of their legal systems, but were also active in resolving trade barriers.

“These should be exemplars for Vietnamese trade counsellors to learn from,” he said.

He said that the most difficult issue for domestic production was marketing. This was the reason trade counsellors should act as a bridge connecting local firms with new export markets.

The PM asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to reward trade offices and commercial counsellors who actively contributed to promoting exports of staples, such as shrimp, mango, dragon fruit, lychee, star apple, longan and chicken to the Asian market. 

He said that in the current stage of socio-economic development, economic diplomacy needed due attention so trade offices must have an important role in Vietnamese embassies abroad. 

He requested trade counsellors to do their utmost to help realise the country’s trade turnover of $500 billion in 2018. The counsellors should take the success of businesses as measurement of their operational efficiency. 

According to the ministry, trade offices abroad carried out over 500 trade-promotion activities in 2016-17 to help domestic and foreign companies update regulations on import-export and trade connectivity. 

They also actively worked with the Department of Trade Defence to deal with trade-defence measures, such as anti-dumping and anti-subsidy, applied by countries importing Vietnamese goods. The trade offices provided information and handled 12 anti-dumping cases in 2016 and 13 more in 2017.

Trần Quốc Khánh, deputy minister of Industry and Trade, said many trade counsellors had been active in studying and seeking policies and markets in foreign countries, especially those relating to Việt Nam’s export products.

In addition, trade counsellors had been active in promoting big trade promotion programmes in Việt Nam for foreign companies and providing local firms with information on exhibitions in foreign countries.

“The trade-counsellor system has become an effective bridge connecting Vietnamese entrepreneurs in foreign countries with local businesses as well as guiding Vietnamese firms to bring Vietnamese goods to foreign markets,” Khánh said.

However, he added that activities of trade counsellors sometime had not been active enough, requiring more efforts to complete all socio-economic targets in 2018.

In foreign markets where Việt Nam has a trade deficit, trade counsellors should strive to make exports higher than imports, paying attention to barriers for exports. The counsellors should have a deep understanding on international commitments that affect Việt Nam, he said.

“Việt Nam’s export potential is big. Trade promotion should clarify targets and key issues,” he noted.

Minister Trần Tuấn Anh said the ministry would set new requirements and specific assessments on work’s effectiveness of trade counselors. — VNS


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