Enterprises will get more opportunities to develop when the network between producers and distributors is promoted, said Chairman of the Hanoi Supermarkets' Association Vu Vinh Phuc.

He said that at present, the domestic retail network was shifting from traditional wet markets to modern ones which include supermarkets, shopping malls and convenience stores.

"The modern distribution network helps by having minimum intermediary steps, while the producers maximise their profits and the distributors have a stable supply," he said.

Nguyen Lam Vien, Director of Vinamit, a Vietnamese dried food producer, said that boosting partnerships with its domestic and overseas retailers was an effective way of surviving and maintaining growth during the current economic slowdown.

Last year, his company cooperated with domestic supermarket operator Co.opmart and foreign distributor Dole to promote its products. Displaying products in branded supermarkets helped them get better access to consumers, he said.

However, economic experts are worried that without competence and capacity, domestic producers will be vulnerable to mergers and acquisitions by bigger foreign firms when foreign investors penetrate deeper into the domestic market.

Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management Vo Tri Thanh said that this year, Vietnam would be opening up to foreign investors and domestic enterprises, and those operating in the retail sector especially need to improve their capacity and competitiveness to survive the tough competition.

"Integration is not only about challenges but also about opportunities for market expansion and technology transfer," he emphasised.

However, Phuc from the Hanoi Supermarkets' Association said that in the last decade, there was little policy support for the retail sector.

So far, only retailers in rural areas have enjoyed incentives to access land and develop distribution chains there, he said.

Chairwoman of the Vietnam Retailers' Association Dinh Thi My Loan said that a system and infrastructure to support the retail sector was needed.

So far, it is still very difficult for enterprises to access land to develop logistics infrastructure, including storehouses.-VNA