|Nguyễn Minh Tiến, Director of Trade Promotion Centre for Agriculture. Photo nongnghiep.vn
Nguyễn Minh Tiến, Director of the Trade Promotion Centre for Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, speaks with Việt Nam News reporter Tố Như about opportunities for Vietnamese agricultural products to enter major markets in the world.
How do trading partners in new markets that import Vietnamese agricultural products evaluate products that are regional specialities in Việt Nam?
In the past, we have participated in trade promotion activities at fairs and exhibitions held in many major global markets, such as Europe, the UK, the US, Australia, and the Middle East. Through discussions and working with partners, we realise that Việt Nam has a huge potential in exporting agricultural products, especially those under the One Commune, One Product (OCOP) programme, which promotes specialities of localities in Việt Nam. Notably, the European market and the Vietnamese and Asian communities there has great demand for traditional products and regional specialities. This is the strength of OCOP products in many localities.
Currently, Việt Nam has 8,430 OCOP products rated three stars or more. Of them, 20 products rated five stars. The OCOP products have been mainly supplied to the domestic market and are aiming for export. The specialities represent the typical cultural and culinary values of each region, meet the diverse food consumption needs of Europeans, and can penetrate deeply into major countries worldwide.
At the same time, the specialities help diversify Việt Nam's importing markets in the context that the Chinese market is implementing a tightening policy due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are better at taking advantage of signed Free Trade Agreements (FTA).
After the FTAs between Việt Nam and Europe, Việt Nam and the UK were signed, exporting goods from Việt Nam to the markets became much more convenient. European countries have reduced many procedures and permits. The import tax rate has also decreased sharply, creating favourable conditions for our agricultural products to compete with similar products from other countries in these demanding markets.
What has been done to implement the roadmap for promotion, trade promotion and export of Việt Nam's agricultural specialities?
The export of OCOP and regional agricultural products depends greatly on production and product quality. Currently, we have two main bottlenecks to solve. Firstly, the production facilities are mostly small-scale, so it isn't easy to meet the standards of assessment and certification of food safety and hygiene, sustainable forest certification or requirements relating to packaging and labelling.
On the other hand, with limited financial capacity, production units cannot hire international consultation, assessment and certification units.
Secondly, regarding trade promotion, we have yet to organise big professional events and programmes to promote OCOP products to the international markets. As a result, little information about regional specialities and Vietnamese producers has reached such markets.
For example, in the German market, Việt Nam's speciality agricultural products supply only meets about ten per cent of the demand of the Asian community there. We estimate the export potential is very large, but importers lack information about Vietnamese products made from rice, like rice paper, noodles, vermicelli or nuts like cashews or macadamia, or spice products like cinnamon and anise.
What are the solutions for those bottlenecks so Vietnamese farming products, particularly OCOP ones, could better enter international markets?
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is coordinating with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to support enterprises to exploit free trade agreements effectively. At the same time, we guide businesses and people to meet regulations on labels, traceability, and registration of packaging codes.
Việt Nam's large enterprises and corporations with financial capacity could invite international assessment and consulting firms to issue quality certificates. As a result, agricultural products and foodstuffs are easily exported to Europe. At meetings with large distribution groups worldwide, they want to see quality certificates so that the export will be convenient and fast.
For example, the international SGS certification of Switzerland evaluates quality standards, content, and pesticide residues to ensure consumer safety and health. However, it will be difficult for OCOP producers to fulfil the above requirement with limited resources. Therefore, we are studying and proposing a mechanism to support businesses in implementing the evaluation and appraisal process, which focuses on investing in agricultural products and speciality foods that meet regulatory requirements, food safety standards and hygienic environmental criteria.
It is also necessary to connect producers and distribution enterprises to create a large chain of links. For example, these distribution enterprises could invite international organisations to evaluate the products that they want to export. Following that can effectively reduce costs while it's not feasible for each production unit to manage.
Along with actively developing export strategies, enterprises need to continue to apply new and digital technologies in their production and business activities, particularly deep processing, and digital sales channels, to expand market connection. VNS