Hanoi vows to accompany firms through COVID-19 crisis hinh anh 1Director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade Le Hong Thang speaks at the conference (Photo; VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Hanoi will work together with businesses to address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and strive for 8-percent export growth, according to Director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade Le Hong Thang.

He made the statement during a conference last week to chalk out measures to boost the trade and industry sector’s growth amid the global spread of the new coronavirus.

The municipal Department of Industry and Trade reported Hanoi’s export revenue declined 19 percent to 1.72 billion USD in the first two months of this year, with exports to China dropping 18 percent and those to the Republic of Korea plunging 35.5 percent. The city’s imports valued more than 3.71 billion USD, a year-on-year decrease of 20.7 percent, with imports from China down 20.9 percent and the RoK down 15.8 percent.

Deputy director of the department Tran Thi Phuong Lan said the epidemic is badly hurting the global economy, so hitting 8-percent export growth will be challenging this year. The department has advised the municipal People’s Committee to develop three scenarios for export growth based on how quickly the outbreak fades, she noted.

Mac Quoc Anh, Vice Chairman and General Secretary of the Hanoi Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Association, said the biggest challenge to local manufacturers is a shortage of materials, particularly those for footwear, textile and garment production, because they are mainly imported from epidemic-hit areas like China and the RoK.

At the conference, participating firms urged the department and relevant agencies to establish an online portal to collect information and opinions from the business community to learn about their problems and come up with solutions. 

They also stressed the need to launch more discount programmes to boost local demand and provide affected businesses with tax and fee exemptions and reductions as well as cut interest rates and repayment dates.

Many craft villages, which heavily rely on materials imported from China, across Hanoi have also been hit by the outbreak, said Vice Chairman of the Hanoi Handicraft and Craft Village Association, Pham Khac Ha.

Phu Xuyen leather footwear craft village only has enough materials to maintain production for two months while production has nearly ground to a halt in Phu Vinh bamboo and rattan craft village and Bat Trang pottery village, he said.

The number of visitors to Van Phuc silk and Da Sy blacksmith craft villages has decreased 80 percent, he added.

Ha asked the city’s authorities to accelerate trade promotions and demand stimulus events both at home and overseas when the outbreak ends while offering craft villages soft loans to resume production.

Thang said his department will closely coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Agency for Foreign Trade and relevant bodies as well as 58 trade offices throughout the world to help firms seek new sources of materials and components and expand to new markets, for example, Russia, Latin America and Africa. 

The department will also help local firms tackle issues in customs, taxation, land and finance and connect them so they can cooperate and support each other to reduce their dependence on imports./.