Vietnamese companies were advised at a recent seminar in Ho Chi Minh City to improve cooperation to reduce their dependence on imported raw materials.

Speaking at the seminar late last week on "Connecting Material Supply in ASEAN ++", Pham Ngoc Hung, Deputy Head of the HCM City Enterprise Association (HEA) said that such co-operation was still weak and that big and small companies should start to work together.

To make one product, companies should not have to produce all of the components, and instead should share jobs with each other, he said.

Hung said that cooperation among companies would help all of them and would reduce the need to import parts that they cannot produce.

Hung and other participants agreed that cooperation was necessary, especially if the country becomes an important player in the ASEAN Economic Community.

At the seminar, representatives said that the price of raw materials produced in Vietnam was expensive, and consequently, companies preferred imports.

They said that it was not too late to develop the industry that produces raw materials.

Companies should invest in technology, and produce raw materials at cheap prices if they can, representatives said, this would enhance Vietnamese companies' competitiveness.

To strengthen cooperation, the HEA suggested several solutions.

Hung of HEA said that they needed clear guidance about where they could buy raw materials in Vietnam.

"It takes a lot of time and money for companies to find an address selling commodities that they need," he said.

Trade promotion activities should also be organised regularly, he said, adding that building confidence in the business community was necessary.

Vietnamese producers currently have to rely heavily on imported raw materials, especially in the sectors of garments and textiles, footwear, feed, aquaculture and plastics.

This reliance has contributed to a trade deficit with many Asian countries, including China and the Republic of Korea.

Vietnam targets a localisation rate of 55 percent by 2015 and 65 percent by 2020. It has set a goal of 70 percent by 2030.-VNA