The nation's retailers should join hands to compete more effectively against major foreign rivals as the market is fully opened over the next few years, said experts at a seminar held recently in Hanoi.

Pursuant to the country's commitments to the World Trade Organisation, foreign investors will be able to establish wholly foreign-invested enterprises in the retail industry within the next three years, placing increasing pressure on domestic retailers, said Vietnam Retailers Association chairwoman Dinh Thi My Loan.

The capacity of Vietnamese retailers to compete remains limited due to a lack of capital, long-term business strategies for effective distribution, as well as adequate corporate governance, Loan said.

To open a convenience store chain, for instance, retailers would have to accept losses of roughly 400-500 billion VND (19-23.8 million USD) in the first five years of operation. Joining hands with foreign partners would therefore be essential for local retailers to develop, she said, urging the Government to issue policies to ease the establishment of joint ventures with foreign partners.

The country's retail market remains limited with small scale and low consumption, Loan said. Much trading activities take place in traditional outdoor markets, with modern supermarkets and shopping centres currently accounting for only about 20 percent of total retail sales value nationwide.

To support retailers, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has said that it would implement a series of measures as well as issue of a national plan for development of the retail industry. Besides giving priority to large-scale supermarkets, the plan would also support household retailers in training to help them make the transition to more modern retail systems.-VNA