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Vietnam’s export activities pick up

Alain Chevalier, senior technical advisor of the International Trade Centre (ITC) has highly valued Vietnam’s achievements in export activities over the past years. He said Vietnam’s export sector is very dynamic.

Having once been an importer, Vietnam has now become the world’s largest exporter of farm produce, including rice, coffee and cashew nuts. The country has made use of its powerful human resources in various fields, including the garment and textile, footwear and electronics sectors, as well as service and export activities.

The ITC research group and the Department for Trade Promotion has provided important assessments of Vietnam’s export potential, based on the results of a recent survey of 40 Vietnamese export items in the Project VIE/61/94 entitled "Supporting Trade Promotion and Export Development in Vietnam".

During the past eight years, from 1997 to 2004, Vietnam’s export turnover increased from US$9.2 billion to US$26 billion, reaching an annual average growth rate of 14 percent. This is an encouraging result. According to Deputy Ministry of Trade Phan The Rue, such remarkable achievements can be attributed to the Government’s open policies on export development. Vietnam is committed to developing its economy towards exports, liberalising economics and trade, integrating into the regional and global economy, implementing the Vietnam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) and trade agreements with the European Union (EU), as well as completing the process to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Furthermore, thanks to efforts by ministries and agencies in making policies on export promotion and assistance, the country will focus on resolving problems in business operations so as to boost export activities. It’s worth noting that the achievements recorded have been greatly prompted by the creative and effective performance of all businesses involved in export activities.

Mr Rue said that the Ministry of Trade always keeps a close watch on foreign markets and monitors production activities in the domestic market so as to provide useful information for exporters. The ministry has provided businesses with information relating to export item structures, quality and hygiene requirements for export products, and warned about barriers in sensitive markets. The ministry also proposed consultancy services to help the Government build national key trade promotion programmes and implement the programmes successfully. It has co-operated with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to organise tours for enterprises seeking business opportunities in foreign markets and has held international workshops on issues relevant to export development.

Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen also made important comments on export development strategies in Vietnam. He proposed measures to reduce the import surplus and facilitate Vietnam’s access to international markets. He also provided consultant service for the Government on export policies and devised measures to develop exports in the new period.

Under Vietnam’s export development strategy in the period 2001-2010, the country should fulfil such major targets as achieving an export growth rate of 14 percent per year, boosting the value of the garment and textile and footwear sectors from US$3.6 billion to US$15 billion, diversifying industrial exports, developing a US$7 billion IT export market and boosting telecoms services.

According to some economists, although Vietnam has achieved high export growth in recent years, it faces great challenges. The country currently has low per capita export figure compared to other regional countries (eg: Vietnam: US$320, Thailand: US$1,300, Malaysia: US$4,100). In addition, the country has very few products for export.

Economists have also recommended overcoming the difficulties in exports by setting up a Manufacturer and Enterprises Association in each region, developing supporting industries, improving product quality and design, expanding production, adjusting Vietnamese standards in accordance with international norms, investing in technology studies and infrastructure, attracting foreign investment, using trade information, and building trademark. In addition, they proposed measures to promote trade, link supporting trade organisations and invest in human resources. These recommendations should be considered carefully by the Government and relevant ministries so they can be adjusted in accordance with the country’s long-term plan.

VOV - (07/10/2005)

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