Illustrative image (Photo: infonet.vn)

HCM City (VNA) -
Vietnamese firms should learn more about trade defence instruments allowed under the WTO and jointly use them to protect themselves, a seminar heard in HCM City ON June 29.

Nguyen Phuong Nam, Deputy Head of the Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA), said with tariffs eliminated under a series of free trade agreements the country has signed and would sign in future, Vietnamese firms would have huge opportunities to boost exports.

On the other hand, the country has to open up to imports, an imminent challenge for local industry, he told the seminar organised by VCA and the HCM-WTO Centre.

The WTO permits members to impose trade remedies or trade defence measures like anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguards against imports to protect their domestic industry from unfair practices such as dumping and subsidies or to cope with a sudden surge in foreign goods.

Pham Huong Giang, Deputy Head of the VCA's Trade Remedies Board, said according to WTO statistics, members investigated 311 safeguards in 1995-2015 and 4,757 anti-dumping cases and 380 anti-subsidy cases between 1995 and 2014.

Vietnam set up a legal framework for trade defence more than 10 years ago, she said.

But the country has launched only two anti-dumping and four safeguard investigations into imports.

Nam said the trade defence instruments are among the last tools recognised by the world to protect domestic production.

Though a law on this was promulgated over 10 years ago, knowledge about trade defence instruments among Vietnamese manufacturers, business associations and State agencies remains limited, making it very difficult to apply or initiate lawsuits against imports, he said.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry's WTO and Integration Centre, said a recent VCCI survey on the understanding rate among Vietnamese firms about the trade defence instruments found that 15 percent of polled firms do not know about them, 63 percent have heard about them but do not understand thoroughly, almost 20 percent have cursory knowledge, and only 1.89 percent did a detailed study.

In addition, limited financial and human resources and difficulty in collecting evidence are among other factors preventing firms from initiating lawsuits using trade defence, she said.

Vu Van Thanh, Hoa Sen Group's deputy general director, said foreign markets have 62 trade defence-related measures against steel products imported from Vietnam, causing difficulties for Vietnamese companies.

On the other hand, the Vietnamese market is flooded with cheap steel imports, he said.

He called on businesses and business groups to cooperate to protect domestic products against imports.

To effectively use the trade defence instruments, Trang said businesses should study them properly.

Besides, they should remain aware of unfair competition in the domestic market and the risks of trade defence lawsuits against their exports, she said.-VNA