At the forum (Photo: VNA)
 
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam needs to realise and capitalise on the advantages of each agricultural product so as to boost both production and consumption, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong at a forum in Hanoi on March 5.

The participation in bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) has helped Vietnamese agro-forestry-fishery products avoid almost all tariff barriers. This is a great advantage for the country as it is stepping up agricultural exports to markets with which it has signed FTAs.

However, import markets are also tightening quality and quarantine requirements for imported produce, posing major challenges to Vietnam’s agricultural production.

Nguyen Quoc Toan, Acting Director of the ministry’s Department of Agro Processing and Market Development, said that local agriculture is still relatively small scale and as such has yet to meet international markets’ mass production requirements and high quality standards.

Challenges also arise from the impacts of climate change and plant and animal diseases. The US-China trade tension, the issue of Brexit, and global geo-political risks will also affect agricultural exports.

Meanwhile, many countries – even large ones like the US, Japan, China, and EU nations – have begun boosting investment in agriculture, creating fierce competition with Vietnamese farm produce, Toan said.

Echoing this view, To Ngoc Son, Deputy Director of the Department of Asian-African Markets at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that China – a leading destination of Vietnamese agro-forestry-fishery products – has toughened rules on origin traceability, export registration, and product packaging. Japan, the Republic of Korea, and some ASEAN countries have also applied increasingly strict regulations related to plant and animal quarantine.

He said to make use of the signed FTAs, Vietnam’s agriculture needs to change its long-standing practices. The agriculture ministry, localities, and businesses should work together to re-organise agricultural production with a focus on key products, scale expansion, and quality improvement so as to meet importers’ requirements.

Prioritised products and markets also need to be specified to orientate production, he noted, asking exporting companies to actively survey markets and change their trading method from unofficial small-scale to official trading, especially with China.

Vietnam targets this year’s agricultural exports at 43 billion USD.

To that end, the sector will press on with agricultural restructuring and the production of key products at national, provincial, and communal levels, according to Minister Cuong.

The work needs the joint efforts of the government, ministries and sectors, businesses, and farmers, he said, elaborating that the government needs to boost administrative reforms and remove difficulties facing businesses and farmers. Meanwhile, millions of farming households nationwide need to be connected with cooperatives and enterprises.

Only by doing so can Vietnam form strong connectivity between production and consumption, the minister added. –VNA