The efficiency of trade promotion activities needs to be enhanced in the coming year, heard a conference on Dec. 19 in Hanoi.

The conference, under the framework of the Commercial Counsellor Meeting held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, focused discussion on measures to better support enterprises to develop their business at home and abroad.

Director of the Ministry's Department of Trade Promotion Do Thang Hai said the investment for trade promotion in recent years has not met the demand of enterprises and lacks competitiveness with other countries.

The State budget allocation for trade promotion has also been on a down trend year on year. This year's allocation was cut to 55 billion VND (2.6 million USD), half of the amount in 2010 and nearly one-third of the 2009 figure. Meanwhile, the demand from enterprises is reported to be more than seven times higher than the allocated amount.

Vietnam 's investment in trade promotion is reported to be much lower than foreign countries, equaling one-thirtieth of the world's average rate, which lowers the competitiveness of local enterprises in foreign markets, he said.

Local trade promotion organisations and Vietnam ’s trade offices abroad do not work or link closely to each other, which also hinder trade promotion, said Hai.

The department reported that only 25 percent and 23 percent of the local trade promotion organisations in the country's northern and central parts maintain their regular relationship with their trade offices. In the southern region, the rate is 64 percent.

Although 70 percent of the local trade promotion organisations have their own websites to introduce local enterprises, the websites have not proved to be very efficient except for those in big cities such as Hanoi , HCM City , Hai Phong and Da Nang .

The lack of a network providing information about domestic enterprises has wasted many business opportunities, said Dao Tran Nhan, Vietnamese commercial counsellor in the US .

The application of information technology in trade promotion plays a significant role in connecting enterprises, Nhan emphasised.

Commercial counsellors at the conference also agreed to boost the foundation of Vietnam trade promotion offices in foreign countries, saying it will help widen the export market while speeding up the integration of Vietnam into the world economy.

According to the commercial counsellor in the UK, An The Dung, the capacity of trade promotion organisations must also be enhanced, especially those at the local level, to foresee and tackle barriers to enterprises in domestic and foreign markets and raise measures to better support enterprises.

Support will also be given to strengthen the capacity of trade associations to facilitate their greater involvement in trade promotion activities./.