Nguyễn Ngọc Bảo. — Photo baocongthuong.vn
Nguyễn Ngọc Bảo, Chairman of the Việt Nam Co-operative Alliance, speaks to the newspaper Công Thương (Trade and Industry) about how trade promotion can ensure co-operatives find a market for their products
What are the contributions of co-operatives to the national GDP in the recent past?
In 2017, co-operatives nationwide contributed over 4 per cent to the country’s GDP. Co-operatives’ products were diversified, including food and other essential products for society in general. As a result, they played a considerable role in the country’s macro economy, including the balancing of essential goods circulating in the market.
More importantly, the co-operatives played a considerable role in the efforts to build new rural areas nation-wide.
Regarding Việt Nam’s exports, agro-products and traditional handicraft and arts items were among major foreign currency earners for the national budget coffers.
Will you please tell us about the strengths and weaknesses of the agriculture sector in 2017?
A major success of the agriculture sector last year was its commercial promotion. It was a driving force for many agricultural co-operatives to develop. Of course, the success was attributed to various factors, including the active support from enterprises. They helped us quite a lot in the trade promotion both inside and outside the country, particularly in the creation of the value chain for many agriculture co-operatives and the establishment of relationships with foreign co-operative alliances to expand their markets. Last but not least, with support from high tech marketing efforts, the year 2017 was a successful one for many Vietnamese agriculture co-operatives in terms of their exports.
Regarding financial resources, currently, the agriculture sector has VNĐ34,000 billion (US$1.5 billion) in charter capital, with its total assets valued at VNĐ80,000 billion (US$3.5 billion). The sector also has a system of 48 funds for development support from the central government level down to the grass roots level, with a total capital investment of over VNĐ 2,000 billion (US$88 million) to lend to some 1,000 projects.
In addition to above-mentioned successes, the co-operatives have faced many challenges in their export activities, particularly in terms of human resources, technology and policies for co-operative economic development.
Acknowledging its current weakness, the Việt Nam Co-operative Alliance plans to initiate plans to help co-operatives to increase their productivity; to help co-operatives to produce high-quality products to meet market demands, particularly those relating to safety; and to make Việt Nam a major supplier of agro-products in the international market.
The Việt Nam Cooperative Alliance has also petitioned the Government to adopt workable policies on land, credit, taxes and trade promotion for agricultural products.
What has the Việt Nam Co-operative Alliance done to help the co-operative to utilise the advantages offered by the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) the country has joined?
We have regularly run programs to update co-operatives on the new development potential and preferential policies under the FTAs. In the mean time, we have regularly organised training workshops to inform the co-operatives about new technology and advantages offered by the FTAs.
Last but not least, the Việt Nam Co-operative Alliance has developed a website – a place for cooperatives to introduce their new products to new markets. In addition, on the website, we also offer linkages between co-operatives with enterprises that can enable them to seek new markets, particularly those with demanding standards for entry._VNS