Business executives held a direct dialogue with national and international experts on how their companies can win consumers' trust and boost their credibility in the market at a forum held in Hanoi on September 17.

The issues they discussed at the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Calendar Forum on Consumer Issues included making more Vietnamese select and trust local products, surviving the harsh competition in the retail market, and building a market where consumers trust producers.

The forum was held as part of a new project called "From Global Compact to Local Impact! - Promotion of CSR among Vietnamese Business Community for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)".

The project is a joint initiative by the Office for Business Sustainable Development (SDforB) of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the UN Industrial Development Organisation, and the UN Environment Programme.

Funded by the UN One Plan Fund, it aims for synergies with the EU-funded Switch Asia policy module for the development of a national SCP action plan lead by UNEP as well as with the UN Global Compact Vietnam Network under SDforB.

The CSR Calendar Forum is engaging with the Association of Vietnam Retailers and Vietnam Environmental Administration.

Other issues discussed at length were CSR and SCP - Together for Responsible and Sustainable Business; Draft national action plan on SCP and Environmental policy to support SCP; Overview of new CSR Project and consumers' issues; Sharing experiences on gaining consumers' trust in Vietnamese products; The UN Global Compact as a way to improve the trust in enterprises.

"The CSR Calendar Forum is a good chance for enterprises taking part in the badly needed multi-stakeholder dialogues to better understand 6 core CSR subjects based on principal documents such as ISO26000 and UN Global Compact," Nguyen Quang Vinh, director of SDforB, VCCI, said.

"Since 2007 Vietnam has become a local network of UN Global Compact aiming at supporting its members implement effective CSR in the country."

Florian Beranek, chief technical advisor of the project, said: "Multi-stakeholder dialogues had become a kind of trademark CSR initiatives during the recently concluded EU funded VCCI – UNIDO project on CSR that helped improve the collective understanding of the needs, challenges, and business opportunities associated with each of the core CSR subjects.

"Improved social performance is expected to enhance competitiveness and trade performance of the subject enterprises, reduce their environmental impact and resource consumption and improve their relations with stakeholders, including workers, communities, consumers and business partners."

Dinh Thi My Loan, chairwoman of AVR, said: "Vietnamese enterprises are facing huge challenges of competitiveness. According to the WTO roadmap commitment, from January 11 next year foreign retailers are allowed to set up business with 100 percent foreign investment capital, replacing the 50 percent currently applied.

"Vietnam has witnessed big names such as Lotte (the Republic of Korea), AEON (Japan) entering the distribution and retail market or planning for their participation in near future like E-Mart (the Republic of Korea), Takashimaya (Japan), Auchan (France).

"Hence, it is necessary for Vietnamese businesses to improve their strategies if they want to compete in the domestic market in the context of integration."

To help businesses know more about CSR and to bridge international and national experts to understand enterprises as well as consumers needs and demand, a workshop titled "Gaining Consumers' Trust in Local Products and Services to Support Sustainable Consumption and Production" was held in the afternoon.-VNA