Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai is speaking at the event (Source: Internet)
 
HCM City (VNA) – Improving the quality and added value of products is crucial for Vietnamese firms to access and fully tap the US market, experts said at the Vietnam-US Business Forum held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 18.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said two-way trade between Vietnam and the US surged 47-fold from 220 million USD in 1994 to nearly 51 billion USD in 2017. Vietnam is now the 16th largest trade partner of the US while the US has become Vietnam’s top trade partner in the past decade, he said.

The two economies have supplemented each other, Hai said, adding that while Vietnam has demand for machinery, hi-tech, aviation, telecommunications equipment, and agricultural products used for production, the US is keen on importinge farm produce, apparel, leather and footwear, and electronic products.

However, products with high added value or luxury consumer goods have accounted for an inconsiderable proportion among Vietnam’s exports to the demanding market.

According to experts, each US state has different laws and regulations apart from the federal laws so that Vietnamese exporters need to grasp them before doing business.

Additionally, the US has issued new and strict regulations and standards on food quality, safety and origin, especially for imported agro-forestry-aquatic products.

Chu Thang Trung, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Trade Defence Department, said the US has enhanced protectionism measures for domestic manufacturing and limited imports in recent years.

According to Trung, the number of US lawsuits regarding anti-dumping and anti-subsidy on many countries’ goods has doubled to over 100. For Vietnam alone, the US launched legal proceedings against 25 cases involving aquatic products, steel nails and clothes hangers.

Trung said almost Vietnamese firms are small and medium-sized with little experience in trade defence so that they will incur high costs or even risk losing the market if being sued.

Dinh Thi Huong Nga, from the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City, said Vietnam’s wooden furniture exports to the US surpassed 3 billion USD last year, accounting for 40 percent of Vietnam’s total, mostly those in medium segment.

General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) Truong Dinh Hoe said stricter standards on food quality and hygiene safety will force Vietnamese exporters to improve quality to overcome technical barriers.

Trung urged firms in the same sector to foster connectivity and jointly cope with trade contingencies.

In policy terms, the government and trade representative agencies need to devise specific strategies to negotiate with authorities while enhancing warnings and offering instructions to Vietnamese businesses in legal proceedings to protect their legitimate rights and interests, he said.-VNA