Little action on WTO integration

Vietnamese companies are facing increasingly fierce competition from foreign firms and were starting to lose a foothold on home turf.
Vietnamese companies are facing increasingly fierce competition from foreign firms and were starting to lose a foothold on home turf.

Economists Tran Kim Hao and Nguyen Binh Nguyen from the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) told a seminar here on Dec. 14 that the competitiveness of local enterprises was still limited in management, in the qualification of employees, in production costs, communications and trade promotion.

They said few companies had developed plans to promote and introduce products to customers in a professional manner.

Most were not fully aware of the value and significance of trade promotion and advertising. Therefore, spending on advertising was low, accounting for less than 1 percent of revenue, while foreign businesses spent 10-20 percent of sales revenues on advertising.

The seminar was told that businesses and authorities remain passive about the World Trade Organisation (WTO) despite making dramatic adaptations to join the group.

Before and after Vietnam joined the WTO, there was much propaganda about the opportunities and difficulties facing businesses on joining.

But former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan told the seminar that while joining the WTO was essential, without firm skills, domestic businesses were unable to withstand the competition from WTO countries.

He said the national policy was to actively integrate into the world economy, but domestic businesses and authorities had no deep understanding about the commitments.

He said this was despite the publication and distribution of numerous documents about the process by authorities.

Furthermore, authorised agencies paid little attention to businesses and knew little about the WTO or its regulations.

Allaster Cox, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam , said the difficulties involved in WTO integration were further reforms of private and State-owned enterprises, Government agencies, the banking system and regulations covering commerce and trade.

He said Vietnam needed to further reform its administrative system and that domestic enterprises should avoid spreading their resources.

Nguyen Tien Vuong, deputy general director of the Hanoi Trade Corporation (Hapro), said that to integrate into the global economy, his corporation had developed its domestic market strategy and expanded its export markets.

Nguyen Ngoc Khoi, chairman of KAT Group, said that businesses hoped the Government and capital city authorities would continue to make administrative reforms and create a fairer playground for all economic sectors.

Nguyen Van Suu, deputy chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, said authorities were willing to listen to proposals about the better use of opportunities for the global economic integration.

After the country became an official member of the WTO, enterprises benefited from the commitment to open economies. They acquired greater access to high-tech equipment and started to learn advanced managerial skills.

Vuong said that after becoming a member of the WTO, his corporation’s export market had expanded. Similarly, the number of foreign tourists had risen significantly.

In addition, global economic integration had made the local business climate more open and dynamic./.

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