Vietnamese firms still unmindful of opportunities in RoK hinh anh 1Workers at a Samsung factory in Vietnam. (VNA)

HCM City (VNA)
– Vietnamese businesses have not yet made the most of opportunities from the Vietnam-Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA) to increase exports to the Republic of Korea (RoK) market.

The assessment was made by experts at a seminar held by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in HCM City on September 7.

According to delegates, RoK firms have capitalised on the lower tariff duties under the FTA to boost exports to Vietnam while Vietnamese firms have not.

As a result, Vietnam’s trade deficit with the RoK has widened sharply since the agreement came into effect in December 2015, they said.

According to the Korea Customs Service, exports to Vietnam in January-July this year were worth 26.95 billion USD, up 50 percent over the same period last year, which is three times the overall export increase rate for the RoK of 16.3 percent.

Nguyen Quang Phuc from the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Import-Export Department said Korean firms have taken advantage of the FTA while Vietnamese enterprises are passive in getting information about it, even unmindful of it, thus missing out on its much-touted benefits.

But when his ministry organised seminars on the FTA’s provisions, not many businesses took part or sent the right employees, he said.

Dang Thai Thien, deputy head of supervision and management at HCM City customs, said compared to the RoK-ASEAN FTA, the VKFTA offers more benefits to Vietnamese firms exporting to the RoK, more products enjoy tariff incentives and rules of origin are easier.

Both Phuc and Thien urged Vietnamese firms to be more active in getting information about the latter to boost export to the RoK.

[RoK exports to Vietnam surge 50 percent in seven months]

Yoon Joo Young, Director of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in HCM City, said Vietnamese firms should contact the Vietnam-Korea Free Trade Agreement Support Centre, which was established last year, for consultancy and accurate and detailed information on the FTA as well as help to resolve difficulties related to non-tariff barriers and obtaining certificates of origin.

Moon Byung Chul, commercial counsellor at the RoK Consulate General in HCM City, said bilateral trade was worth 45.1 billion USD last year, a year-on-year increase of more than 20 percent.

It grew by 30 percent in the first seven months of this year to 35.5 billion USD, he said.

Investment by Korean firms in Vietnam has also gone up significantly, rising to 54 billion USD as of last June, making it the largest foreign investor in Vietnam, he added.

Vietnam is Korea’s third largest trade partner and the largest investment destination in ASEAN, with about 4,500 Korean firms operating in the country.

Park Hyung Min from the RoK Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said while his country’s trade with other partners has decreased, it has remained robust with Vietnam.

He believed that the FTA would further boost bilateral investment and trade ties.-VNA