Businesses need to pay heed to regulations in their import and export markets to optimise opportunities brought about by free trade agreements (FTAs), as a number of such deals have been or are to be signed, according to insiders.

Vietnam has inked nine FTAs, most recently with the Republic of Korea and the Eurasia Economic Union. Other new-generation FTAs are also under negotiation, including the pact with the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

FTAs offer a host of opportunities for Vietnam ’s economic sectors, especially for trading activities, given the provision of many tax and investment incentives, said Nguyen Thi Thu Trang – Director of the WTO Centre at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) at a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on June 2.

However, these trade pacts also require the Vietnamese Government to strictly comply with commitments regarding support policies for domestic industries, she noted.

Nguyen Anh Duong from the Central Institute for Economic Management said the FTAs will bring about major challenges for local companies. He cited the food processing industry as an example: partner countries may levy stricter anti-dumping measures while credit support to domestic companies in the field will be limited.

Meanwhile, the proportion of foreign ownership of electronics companies will be raised as promised in FTAs, putting more pressure on domestic firms, he added.

Huynh Van Hanh, Vice Chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City, said agriculture is more vulnerable to FTA impacts since it uses a majority Vietnamese workforce while market fluctuation and weather conditions also pose risks to this sector.

Besides encouraging scientific and technological application and market expansion to assist agriculture, relevant agencies should enhance communication on both advantages and challenges brought about by FTAs to enable enterprises to utilise these deals effectively, he noted.

Tran Huu Huynh, Head of the VCCI’s Advisory Committee on International Trade Policies, also highlighted the activeness of companies in FTA negotiations since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered Vietnamese negotiators to consult organisations, associations and businesses before engaging in FTA talks.-VNA