Domestic businesses have been told to promptly recognise the expected benefits brought by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 and beyond so that they can connect with other countries from the bloc and the wider region.

Participants made the suggestion at a forum in Hanoi on April 17, discussing ways to step up exports and integration in the AEC.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade (MIT) Do Thang Hai said the trade turnover between Vietnam and ASEAN has quadrupled over the past decade, climbing to nearly 40 billion USD in 2013 from 9 billion USD in 2003.

Last year, Vietnam raked in 18.47 billion USD from its exports to the bloc, the country’s third largest importer only after the US and the EU, an increase of 4.4 percent from the previous year, added Hai.

The export turnover was estimated at 4.7 billion USD in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year increase of 6.4 percent. However, the figure has tended to remain steady, and even slowed down on occasion, as domestic enterprises have not yet taken full advantage of the close geographical distance and incentives offered by the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).

Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the MIT Import-Export Department, said local firms need to raise the competitiveness of their exports through quality improvement, especially by following regulations related to origin certification (OC) of products, if they want to fully utilise the opportunities the AEC will provide.

He proposed that domestic businesses should set up their development strategies to enlarge the production scale to meet larger orders in the near future.

They also need to specify the contents of the strategies and measures to further boost their exports to the ASEAN market, participants suggested.-VNA