Business associations urged to boost cooperation hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo:VNA)

Vietnam has developed 400 business associations nationwide, but their links and cooperation have been poor, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said at a conference on integration and institutional reform, and competitive capacity improvement in new context in Da Nang on August 25.

The conference, which drew over 150 businesses in the Central and Central Highlands regions, focused on how to raise awareness and skills of businesses catching up on opportunities at a time when Vietnam has approached Trans-Pacific Partnership, ASEAN Economic Community and signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

"Domestic businesses are told to have more competitive capacity, develop better technology and legal knowledge in availing of opportunities for exports and production for large markets," Loc said.

"Local business associations play an important role in providing detailed information and guidance on institutions and legal framework and tax cuts when the country signs FTAs," he said.

"Businesses should understand more about the FTA in order to overcome difficulties and improve product quality to meet the strict requirements of these markets," he said.

Loc also added that ASEAN has set a goal for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to be established by the end of 2015, and Vietnam has made efforts to take part in new trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement.

Nguyen Van Ly, General Secretary of the Da Nang city's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) association, said integration and FTA will bring new opportunities for businesses in Vietnam to expand their markets and attract foreign investment.

"Vietnamese businesses need to prepare for the impact of the new global business environment and strengthen their competitiveness in foreign trade, particularly through online technologies like e-commerce," Ly said.

E-commerce emerged as a subject of major discussions among businesses at the conference.

According to the Vietnam E-commerce Association (VECOM), business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales in Vietnam in 2014 totalled approximately 2.97 billion USD.

"E-commerce is bringing a lot of opportunities for SMEs, thanks to its ability to allow around-the-clock customer sales, reduced marketing and transaction expenses, and an overall market expansion to regions outside Vietnam," Vice Chairman and General Secretary of VECOM, Nguyen Thanh Hung, said.

"SMEs need to invest to build an online presence in order to compete in this new business environment. They can grow into global businesses with easy access to partners and customers around the world and increase their profitability in the long term with a strong online brand," he said.

"It is important for businesses to build and develop their own online brands with a reputable domain name," said Nguyen Minh Thai, Business Development Director of Eye Storm Network, one of leading registrars in Vietnam .

"Choosing an appropriate domain name is the first step in building a successful online presence. While there are many domains available, .com is the global online standard for doing business online," he said.

Thai said his company always advised customers to choose .com due to its availability, reliability and stability to build their online brands, especially when they want to reach larger markets.

According to VCCI, garment-textile, shoes and sandals, seafood, furniture and handbag sector will witness tax cuts from 77 per to 100 percent on account of the FTA commitments with the EAEU.

"We are in the dark as there are too many associations. We did not know how to access information for export or new export market," said Nguyen Van Son, director of a sandal and furniture export company in Da Nang .

"We mostly ask for such information through other partners or try and find it ourselves. The business association has yet to provide necessary information to us," Son said.

"We get little opportunity to join trade fairs abroad due to limited funds at our disposal for travelling or accessing sources of information," he said.

He asked for further commitment and support from VCCI's branches and local associations in hosting more conferences and advocated introduction of new markets or new tax policies rather than organising useless seminars.

He blamed that some seminars were not attractive or dispense little information useful for businesses.-VNA