Vietnam's export turnover rose sharply last year and in the first half of 2014, but challenges in legal and administrative procedures and other risks remain for enterprises.

"Vietnam's exports will face more international lawsuits and technical barriers in the time ahead and local exporters must increase their capabilities to avoid such risks and problems," Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said in his opening speech at a conference held in HCM City on August 21.

The conference, themed "Risk identification and management for exporters to the US and EU markets", was held by AIG Vietnam in partnership with the Vietnam Economic Times, Baker & McKenzie Vietnam and FedEx.

The seminar aims to help businesses in Vietnam identify potential risks, protect their bottom line and strengthen their competitive ability as they engage with international markets, especially the US and EU.

Fred Burke, managing partner of Baker & McKenzie Vietnam spoke about the federal system of American laws.

"Fifty states have their own laws, along with the federal government's laws. Businesses have difficulties caused by having 50 different sets of state laws," he said.

He also pointed out that differences in laws and practices between Vietnam and the US make it more likely that an export contract will result in a dispute.

"The International Chamber of Commerce has developed a set of uniform terms for export contracts that help to avoid misunderstanding and disputes, available at," he added.

Burke suggested that to avoid disputes, export contracts should specify the goods, purchase price, payment terms, inspection and delivery; and the location where the title transfer of goods will take place.

Also, exporters should include information on: the warranty and maintenance terms and conditions; who is responsible for import or export licences, taxes; security requirements (e.g., bank letters of guarantee) and default provisions; mediation or arbitration clauses with the appropriate governing laws; and intellectual property rights (if applicable).

He said exporters should by strictly comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

"If you receive a summons from a US court, don't ignore it. Consult your lawyer to see how to respond," he said.

Providing clear, concise warnings and labels when applicable is also important, he said. In addition, businesses should implement meaningful, rigorous quality assurance programs to ensure product safety and documentation.

Exporters should consider their risk to exposure to product liability claims and have appropriate insurance, and ensure that comprehensive insurance cover has been obtained, he added.

Ensuring that trademarks, names, and slogans do not infringe existing third-party trademark is also important, and educating sales, marketing and research staff is critical as well.

Nguyen Duy Binh, senior country manager of Indochina and chief Vietnam representative of FedEx Express, spoke about US customs procedures at the conference.

"As pre-clearance processes must be done before physical shipments arrive, accurate description of commodities must be declared on shipping invoices," he said.

He also suggested that a full description include details on what the product is, what it is made of, what it is used for. Components, and the country of origin of goods must be included as well.

Also speaking at the conference, Susan Loftus, CEO and general director of AIG Vietnam, said:

AIG's "Made in Vietnam (MIV) Protect" is designed to protect organisations and their management with a selection of insurance solutions such as Directors and Officers liability, Marine Cargo, Product Liability and Trade Credit.

Vietnam's export volume has been increasing at an average of 19.5 percent per year since 2007, the year the country joined the World Trade Organisation.

Total estimated exports in 2013 amounted to 128 billion USD, ranking Vietnam 34th worldwide in export size. In 2017, the country is expected to have 327 billion USD in exports, and be ranked 27th globally.-VNA