A programme to popularise high-quality Vietnamese products in rural areas begun three years ago has achieved great success.

In the period the Association of Vietnamese High-Quality Goods Producers organised 75 market days in remote and rural areas in 23 cities and provinces, selling many products worth 70 billion VND (3.3 million USD).

The programme has helped popularise many Vietnamese products, especially in remote areas where people were unaware of quality domestic brands, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa told a meeting held recently in HCM City to review the association's activities last year.

At the HCM City-based Co.opMart, the country's leading supermarket chain, Vietnamese-made products make up at least 80 per cent of goods, she said.

Sixty percent of people in the north and a slightly higher number in the south are aware of the necessity to use and promote Vietnamese products, she said.

At the meeting, the association signed an agreement with five Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta provinces to promote Vietnamese-made products there.

The market days were well organised, with an average participation of 45-50 companies, daily sales of 1 billion VND (47,600 USD), and around 1,800 buyers every day.

The programme is part of a larger campaign to promote domestic products unveiled in 1996.

The campaign has enabled Vietnamese products to improve market share, with more and more reaching supermarket shelves and traditional markets.

There are more than 860 supermarket outlets in 59 out of the country's 63 cities and provinces, while the number of household-run retail businesses went up slightly to 1.7 million last year.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai told a meeting held last year to review the programme's outcome in the first five months of 2011 that it would contribute to the country's sustainable development.

With the rural population accounting for a majority of the country's nearly 90 million residents, the potential is massive.

Vice president of the Viet Nam Farmers Association, Nguyen Duy Luong, said around 50 percent of rural people are not aware of the programme.

Thoa said for that reason it is important to promote consumer awareness about Vietnamese goods. She called for better co-operation among companies in promoting Vietnamese-made products across the country.

She promised changes in policies this year that will help improve trade infrastructure for better circulation of domestic goods.

The chairwoman of the association, Vu Kim Hanh, said this year promotions will not only continue in the country's rural and traditional markets but also in overseas markets such as Cambodia and China .

" Vietnam needs to promote its products to improve international competitiveness, especially after its accession to the World Trade Organisation and amid preparations for implementing commitments under the Southeast Asian Free Trade Area."

Myanmar is considered another promising market for Vietnamese goods, according to Bui Dinh Thang, deputy general director of Nhon Hoa Scale Manufacturing Company.

Myanmar , which has a population of 55 million and experienced a political transition recently, is becoming a major market for Vietnamese products, he said.

Nhon Hoa scales, for example, have been sold in Myanmar for many years, and its products are becoming increasingly popular there, he added. /.