Vietnam should focus on exporting to China processed goods made with domestic raw materials, experts recommended.

Speaking at a conference organised on April 26 by the HCM City Business Association, Hang Vay Chi, general director of Viet Huong Industrial Park Joint Stock Co, said seafood, fruit, rubber, coffee and cocoa are among the raw materials that Vietnam can export to China .

However, she stressed that raw-material exports should not be somewhat limited to conserve local resources.

Instead, processed-food exports should be increased by around 10 times since those items are profitable.

"Vietnamese businesses should collaborate with the Chinese distribution system. It is an effective way for the businesses with enough financial capacity to advertise to the local consumers. Currently, China has about 1 million supermarkets, convenience stores included," she said.

Huynh Khanh Hiep, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said the department will continue to propose to the Ministry of Industry and Trade to complete the legal framework and trade policies to expand exports in the major regional markets, including China .

Vietnamese exporters should pay more attention to updating bilateral or multilateral agreements with China so as to make good use of preferential-tariff agreements.

There is no need to create more trade promotion programmes to strengthen links with Chinese businesses, he added.

Tran Duc Hanh, an expert at the HCM City 's WTO Affairs Consultation Centre, said that to increase competitiveness of Vietnamese goods to China , businesses should create more designs and improve quality.

They should also survey the market so they can develop specialised and particular products in every market segment.

Vietnamese exporters should take advantage of online market-analysis tools of the International Trade Centre, such as the Trade Map, Trade Competitiveness Map, Market Access Map, Standards Map and Investment Map, to seek understanding about markets and partners and to minimise risks.

Le Ngoc Trung, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's representative office in HCM City , said trade relations between Vietnam and China developed strongly in recent years.

Last year, the import-export turnover of the two countries reached nearly 36 billion USD. However, that does not tap the potential that exists.

Last year, Vietnam 's exports reached 11 billion USD and imports, 25 billion USD.

Vietnam needs to reduce the trade gap with China , possibly through speeding up exports through official channels and also through cross-border trade, according to Trung.

Jenny Trinh, general director of the Bank of Communications, who spoke at the seminar, said the bank will provide financial support for exports of seafood, coffee, rubber, cashews and pepper to the Chinese market.

In addition, it will offer support for import of machines, equipment, chemicals and fertilisers, at competitive interest rates, she added.-VNA