Vietnamese sits on domestic gold mine, but cannot exploit it: expert

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam’s 90 million-consumer market is a ‘gold mine’ in the eyes of foreign producers, but local companies are ignoring it, experts say.


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Vietnam’s 90 million-consumer market is a ‘gold mine’ in the eyes of foreign producers



Ngo Chung Khanh from the Multilateral Trade Policy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade described the situation at the HCMC International Economic Integration Forum held on November 8. 

At a working session between a government leader and foreign counterpart, the counterpart noted that Vietnam is sitting on a gold mine – the 90 million consumer market. However, while foreign businesses lust for the potential market, Vietnamese have forgotten about it. 

As protectionism has returned and importing countries are erecting more technical barriers to replace tariff barriers which have been removed under FTAs, Vietnamese enterprises have been advised to focus on the home market. 

“Every enterprise tries to export products rather than sell them in the home market,” Khanh said.

As protectionism has returned and importing countries are erecting more technical barriers to replace tariff barriers which have been removed under FTAs, Vietnamese enterprises have been advised to focus on the home market. 

Aalok Pandit from the Asia-Africa Retailers’ Association said at an event organized in HCMC late last week that abundant indigenous resources are a great advantage to Vietnamese businesses. 

It is necessary to exploit the resources in the most effective way and conquer domestic consumers’ hearts before reaching out to the world market.

Nguyen Van Khoi from the General Directorate for Standards, Measurement and Quality also said that when exporting products Vietnamese enterprises meet a ‘forest’ of requirements. They also encounter problems in packaging, labeling and quality indexes.

If they satisfy requirements of Vietnamese consumers, who are getting choosier, enterprises will have a high number of customers and can satisfy foreign consumers as well.

FTAs bring great opportunities, but also create stiff competition. To take full advantage of the opportunities to be brought by FTAs, businesses need to take the initiative in learning about FTA commitments and business opportunities. However, analysts say that Vietnamese enterprises are not dynamic and creative.

Regarding technical barriers, Khanh said anti-dumping duties and technical standards are used widely in the world to protect domestic production.

Meanwhile, Vietnam doesn’t have experience in building up similar technical barriers and protection tools. Vietnam’s regulations are legitimate, but face complaints from other countries. 

Ly Kim Chi, chair of the HCMC Food Association, stressed that the problem needs to be settled urgently, because erecting technical barriers are vital for enterprises.

“We recently received a dispatch on stopping the import of wheat because of strange weeds. The problem was settled, but it brought consequences,” she said.

“We received officials from US agencies and they said Vietnam needs to be transparent, and make clear announcements when setting up technical barriers,” she said.