Vietnamese firms should step up efforts to boost exports to the EU despite facing several difficulties, a senior official said ​on July 3 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnamese firms should step up efforts to boost exports to the European Union (EU) despite facing several difficulties, a senior official has said.

Dang Hoang Hai, Director of the European Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, was speaking to the Vietnam News Agency on the even of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Germany and Holland and participation to G20 Meeting (July 5-7).

He said EU was a large and potential market with 28 member countries and a total population of 500 million people. For several years, Vietnam has enjoyed a trade surplus with the EU market, he noted.

In 2016, Vietnam exported goods worth 34 billion USD to the EU, 12 times the value in 2000, and paid 11 billion USD for imports from the bloc.

Hai noted that Vietnam can enjoy benefits from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for the 2017-2019 period. Many countries exporting to the EU do not have this preference.

When the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) comes into effect, Vietnam would have experienced 20 years of participating in the process of regional and international economic integration. Vietnamese enterprises have actively competed with rivals from other countries, he said.

Furthermore, a characteristic of the Vietnam-EU import-export structure is that it is mutually complementary and less confrontational than direct competition, Hai said.

[Vietnam looks to put rice on Europe’s plate]

Commitments under the EVFTA on opening each other’s markets will be an important impetus for boosting Vietnam-EU trade relations, as also an opportunity to further expand exports, especially of key items like textiles, footwear, agro-forestry and wooden products.

Meanwhile, Hai said, it must not be forgotten that the EU is a market with strict quality and safety standards that not many local firms can meet.

Vietnam’s legal system and policies lack uniformity and stability, so local enterprises are at a disadvantage when it comes to international disputes and lawsuits.

Hai said Vietnamese enterprises are also not fully conversant about product origins, and with related rules in the FTA being very strict, the firms will not be able to comply with them.

Therefore, businesses need to actively adjust their supply chain and input materials to adhere to the rules of origin and enjoy preferential tax regimes under the EVFTA. These activities will also help them avoid investigations and other trade defense measures.

Local enterprises should actively reform and improve their ability in all fields, and enhance product quality to face future challenges, Hai said.

To boost exports to the EU, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has directed its trade offices in the EU member countries and relevant agencies to monitor market developments and identify solutions.

Hai also said that the ministry plans to encourage local enterprises directly joining the international distribution network.-VNA