Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife arrive in Vietnam for a visit in mid-January, 2017. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnam-Japan trade is expected to reach a new height in 2017 as the two countries have agreed on many measures to boost the trade exchange, it was agreed at a recent seminar on promoting trade with Japan held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Vu Cuong, deputy head of East Asia division of the Asia Pacific Market Department under the MoIT, said a series of visits made by leaders of the two countries in early 2017 reflected the two sides’ resolve to boost ties. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Vietnam in mid-January and Japanese Emperor is expected to travel to Vietnam in mid-February, while Vietnamese leaders also have plans to visit Japan in March.

Besides good diplomatic relationship, trade experts urged the business community to seize opportunities brought about by the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA).

Cuong underlined the tax reduction roadmap stipulated in the VJEPA, under which import tax will be cut to 2.8 percent in 2018 and at least 86 percent of agri-forestry-seafood products and 97 percent of Vietnamese industrial products will enjoy preferential tax rates in the Japanese market.

Meanwhile, average taxes on Japan’s goods imported into Vietnam will be reduced to seven percent in 2018.

Within 10 years, the two countries will complete the roadmap for tax reduction to form a bilateral free trade zone in which 94.53 percent of Vietnam’s export turnover and 87.6 percent of Japan’s will be exempted from import tax.

However, according to Le An Hai, deputy head of the MoIT’s Asia Pacific Market Department, Vietnamese enterprises have taken advantage of just 40 percent of opportunities offered by the VJEPA.

Hai advised enterprises to invest in quality of goods and boost promotion activities to tap the Japanese market.

Nguyen Trung Dung, Vietnam’s commercial counsellor in Japan, said the structure of Vietnamese and Japanese goods are complementary and not competitive against each other.

Japan mainly imports seafood, garments, footwear, and processed food while Vietnam imports machineries, equipment, technology and materials for production from Japan.

According to data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), Vietnam’s export to Japan in the first 11 months of 2016 was 13.3 billion USD, up 3.1 percent on a yearly basis, making Japan Vietnam’s second largest export market behind the United States.-VNA