Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) stand a good chance of penetrating foreign markets in the region and the world by joining ASEAN-related free trade agreements, heard participants at a workshop in Hanoi on December 4.

The workshop was held to support Vietnamese SMEs taking full advantage of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), and the bloc’s FTAs with Japan , the Republic of Korea , China , Australia , New Zealand and India .

The process has facilitated equal economic growth in the region and created a highly competitive economic zone as well as helped the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including Vietnam , fully integrate into the global economy, said Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Doan Duy Khuong.

Effectively utilising the opportunities from the process will help the bloc’s members to reform mechanism, policy and the business environment as well as attract more foreign investment and enhance manufacturing capacity, he added.

Andrew Holt, First Secretary - UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, underlined the key role of SMEs in Vietnam ’s economic reform, especially when the nation’s economy is in difficult period.

He noted that local firms have yet to fully make use of tax incentives when doing business with partners within and outside the regional grouping.

The workshop, therefore, was also a good opportunity for Vietnamese SMEs to prepare solutions to cope with challenges brought about by the agreements, Holt added.-VNA