Vietnamese exporters should learn well the new European Union rules relating to the bloc's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in order to extract maximum advantage, experts said at a seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City on July 5.

The seminar, titled "EU's new regulations on GSP – opportunities for Vietnamese businesses," informed participants of the new rules and their potential impacts on Vietnam.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Franz Jessen, Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, said: "The strong growth of Vietnamese exports to the EU market is partially attributed to some Vietnamese products enjoying the GSP treatment."

He said that around 49 percent of Vietnam's exports of footwear have benefited from preferential tariffs under the GSP regime.

From 2014 onwards, more Vietnamese products, including footwear, can gain further benefits from the new GSP regulations, he said.

The EU officially published its amended GSP regulations last October, saying they aimed to facilitate market access for goods originating from developing countries, including Vietnam.

The new regulations will take effect early next year.

Vietnam will remain in the list of countries eligible to enjoy the EU's GSP treatment with an enlarged number of favoured tariff lines.

Nevertheless, the new "graduation" rules may expose a number of Vietnam's key exports to the risk of ineligibility, the seminar heard.

The GSP is the result of inter-governmental negotiations held under the auspices of the Conference of Trade and Development of the United Nations.

The scheme offers import tax preferences for goods from least and developing countries exported to GSP host countries on a unilateral basis (not reciprocal).

GSP tariffs are lower than those levied under the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, and can be reduced to zero percent, depending on the regulations of the host country.

EU-Vietnam bilateral trade totaled 29 billion USD in 2012, a year-on-year increase of nearly 20 percent; and accounting for 12.7 percent of the country's total import-export turnover.

Last year, Vietnamese exports to the EU amounted to $20.3 billion, a 22.7 percent increase over 2011, accounting for 17.7 percent of the country's total export value. The EU is Vietnam's second largest export market to date, according to former Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen.-VNA