Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade talks to Hải Quan (Customs) newspaper about trade promotion strategies to help Vietnam take advantage of free trade agreements.
What do you think about the impacts of trade promotion activities on Vietnam’s export turnover?
There have been recently a number of trade promotion activities including the national trade promotion programme, national brand programme and other activities aiming to improve the capacity of and provide information to enterprises. These activities have boosted export turnover of Vietnamese businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources.
There have been thousands of training courses each year for SMEs nationwide to improve their capacity, develop their products, brand and product design.
There have been also hundreds of training courses every year for businesses on skills to promote trade and expand market.
The total investment in trade promotion activities including investment from State budget and private sector has reached VND400 billion (US$17 million) to VND500 billion ($21.3 million) per year, which has increased export turnover by 10 per cent.
Trade promotion activities have been conducted in a productive way.
Some say the participation of enterprises in trade fairs has not proved efficiency. What do you think?
I think this matter has not been looked into carefully. Businesses selected to take part in trade fairs have to meet strict criteria of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. For example, businesses have to be qualified for export turnover criteria or have well-performed staff.
Although there has not been official number on how many contracts have been signed at trade fairs, it cannot be denied that businesses have chances to approach their markets, customers, introduce products and sign contracts with partners.
Experts said Vietnam’s investment in trade promotion activities had not reached full export potential. What do you think about that?
The State budget allocated for trade promotion remains lower than that of other countries.
The trade promotion budget of Vietnam is as low as 0.11 per cent of the allocation in Malaysia and Thailand and hundreds of times lower than Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK).
It has been due to the fact that the Vietnamese economy is struggling and is less developed than Japan and the RoK’s.
I think more State budget should be mobilised for trade promotion in the future to better support businesses and trade associations.
What are the priorities of trade promotion activities, especially export promotion?
To fully tap the potential of free trade agreements that Vietnam has signed, overcome challenges posed by global trade and develop export in a sustainable way, there are four orientations for development.
Firstly, promoting the application of information and technology and e-commerce in export promotion.
Secondly, strengthening international co-operation in export promotion; looking for partners for domestic businesses and associations, especially SMEs. We will focus on assisting SMEs and associations to maintain sustainable networks with trading partners.
Thirdly, improving market consultancy services and creating a channel to provide trade opportunities to businesses and making it into an effective channel to connect Vietnamese representative agencies, trade deals with the ministry’s Trade Promotion Agency, Department of Import-Export, local trade promotion agencies, businesses and associations.
Lastly, trade promotion must be conducted along with building, developing and protecting local brands in the domestic and foreign markets. By doing this, enterprises will be granted chances to increase their values and maintain export turnover.
What is the role of export promotion through e-commerce?
E-commerce and digitalization are a trend in global trade.
In 2030, the growth rate of e-commerce, digital commerce and digital economy in Vietnam is forecast to surge by almost 600 times compared with 2003.
Export promotion on e-commerce and digital economic platforms is one of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s priorities to support enterprises.
The ministry will assist enterprises to improve skills, capacity and knowledge about trade promotion on e-commerce platforms.
The ministry will also connect with global e-commerce service providers such as Amazon, Alibaba, Google and they will come to Vietnam to support businesses in general and SMEs in particular in applying e-commerce tools in their export promotion activities.
Besides Government agencies’ efforts, what is your message to enterprises for more effective trade promotion?
Enterprises themselves need to take an active role in promotion. The Government cannot cover every trade promotion activity within the framework of the national trade promotion programme.
Enterprises need to share investment in trade promotion activities with the Government as well as look for markets, uphold and develop their brands in the global market to ensure sustainable export.