Deputy Head of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) Ta Hoang Linh (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s exports to the Middle East and Africa have increased in recent times, but domestic businesses have yet to fully tap the potential markets, heard a workshop in Hanoi on August 18.

Participants said locally made products are less competitive in both quality and price than commodities made in China, Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia.

Deputy Head of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) Ta Hoang Linh said Vietnam and Middle East and African countries can boast early cooperative ties, and they attach much importance to cementing and enhancing traditional friendships.

So far, Vietnam has established relations with 70 countries in the Middle East and Africa region, with two-way trade increased eight times from 2 billion USD over the past decade, he cited.

Covering over 36 million square kilometers with a total population of nearly 1.5 billion, the market is considered potential for Vietnamese businesses due to its already high demand for various products from Vietnam.

Vietnam mainly exports farm produce such as rice, coffee and pepper along with high added-value industrial products like electronics, machinery and equipment spare parts.

Deputy head of the MoIT’s Department of Africa, Western and South Asia Markets Ngo Khai Hoan said Middle East and African countries have huge demand for food, farm produce, seafood, milk and consumer products, describing this as an excellent opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to boost exports.

Middle East nations also have a high demand for construction materials, electricity lines and cables, home decoration and office equipment, adding that they are all strengths of Vietnam .

Vietnam earned around 37.5 million USD from selling mobile phones and spare parts to the market in 2009, which went up to 6.28 billion USD in 2015.
Another deputy head from the department Le Thai Hoa advised businesses to review their development strategies to improve competitiveness and develop distribution channels while actively carrying out trade promotion activities such as surveying the market, joining trade fairs and exhibitions, and optimising opportunities from the free trade agreements.

He also suggested learning carefully about the culture of the Middle East and African countries to design suitable products and enhance connectivity to become highly competitive in the international arena.

The management of product quality is significant, said Director of the Vietnam Academy of Entrepreneurs, adding that businesses should register their brand names at home and abroad.-VNA