Illustrative photo (Photo: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA) – More than 240 business leaders and senior executives of multi-industry small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are gathering at a workshop in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho to gain knowledge and practical training on becoming an integral part of global value chains and regional e-commerce.

The workshop titled “Trade Facilitation: Integrating SMEs into Inclusive Global Value Chains” is co-held by the municipal People’s Committee, the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC), and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) on July 9-10.

The event is also attended by experts from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and General Department of Customs.

The workshop will discuss several topics including how free trade agreements (FTAs) can facilitate trade; reform solutions for trade facilitation in customs procedures; linking SMEs into an inclusive Global Value Chain; and the role of logistics and digital technology in trade facilitation.

Addressing the event, US-ABC Deputy Regional Managing Director Vu Tu Thanh said although Vietnam is viewed as one of the world’s top economies in terms of potential for manufacturers, only 21 percent of local SMEs are engaged in the global value chain compared to the average 46 percent among their ASEAN peers.

Furthermore, connectivity between SMEs involved in the value chain is not close enough, meaning the benefits they have gained from the expansion of FDI enterprises in terms of technological and know-how transfer as well as improved productivity are limited, Thanh noted.

Echoing Thanh’s view, Director of the VCCI in Can Tho Vo Hung Dung outlined some of the other problems for local SMEs that hamper their path to joining the global value chain, including their lack of advanced technology, funding, and skilled workforce (particularly those capable of performing in such high value added stages as processing, retailing, and marketing).

To tackle these issues, experts suggested that the Government accelerate institutional reforms and continue improving the business climate. At the same time, the SMEs were urged to play an active role in studying markets and learning about international rules in order to develop a long-term business plan and raise capital from banks and investment funds from partners.

As Vietnam is now a magnet for FDI, the SMEs should also be active in getting access to large FDI corporations and seeking partnerships with them, thereby making steps towards gaining a foothold in global value chains. –VNA