Vietnamese SMEs are ready before EVFTA takes effect

The Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Vietnam (EVFTA) was officially ratified on February 12, 2020. The strong commitments in terms of open markets within the EVFTA framework will boost Viet Nam - EU trade relations, furthering the expansion of Viet Nam's export markets.

Since the negotiation is still ongoing, many Vietnamese small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have carefully prepared beforehand, which is shown through their participation at the Biofach organic trade fair in Germany from 12 – 15 February 2020. Those SMEs are confident that their products have met European standards and ready to take advantage of opportunities offered by the EVFTA.

Eleven Vietnamese SMEs had their chance to take part in such an accredited trade fair. Their pavilion was hosted by the Vietnam Organic Agriculture Association (VOAA) and funded by the Trade Promotion Agency (VietTrade). Six out of 11 Vietnamese SMEs have been supported by the BioTrade Vietnam project, funded by European Union (BioTrade EU project) in seedlings, cultivation techniques, product manufacturing process and certification application in European standards for many years.

Mr. Van Luong Pham, Director of Helvetas Vietnam, Representative of BioTrade EU project said: “Since 2014, when the EVFTA was not been signed, we have been sponsored by the European Union and the Swiss government in implementing BioTrade projects on agriculture to access European market. The project's approach is to improve the capacity of farmers and SMEs in market access and product certification.”

Consumers in Europe as well as in Viet Nam are increasingly interested in healthy products in which the production process does not affect the soil, water and air environment. Regarding the law, the European Commission progressively requires more stringent criteria for sustainable exploitation and biodiversity conservation. The BioTrade EU project helps raise the awareness of Vietnamese SMEs on that requirement.

“We see that the European market does not merely require product quality, but they also care about its contribution to the society and the community. Therefore, we want to prove our social responsibilities in environmental, social, human and climate change issues,” said Ms. Lisa Nguyen, General Director of Vietnamese Staranise-Cinnamon Company, Vinasamex.

At Biofach 2020, Vietnamese SMEs introduced their agricultural products which were all certified with European organic standards.

Mr. Phuc Mich Ha, President of VOAA commented: “In my opinion, European organic standards are the most rigorous organic standards, but Vietnamese enterprises are ready for it. The proof is that they all bring their fully-certified products by European organic standards to this trade fair.”

The BioTrade EU project is the key to help Viet Nam's economy open the door to international markets. The project provides support at the household level, guiding farmers to produce on a small scale but the product quality remains high as European market requirements. This is a way to help Vietnamese farmers and SMEs utilise their strengths in the European market, while the FTAs between the EU and other Southeast Asian countries have not been signed.

Source: Helvetas Vietnam - BioTrade EU Project