The Japanese parliament (Diet) has officially approved the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA). On the occasion, the Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in Japan, Vu Van Trung, who is also head of Vietnam’s Trade Office in Japan, talked with a VOV correspondent in Tokyo about Vietnam’s plans to implement the accord.
VOV: Could you elaborate on the significance of the VJEPA?
Mr Trung: This is Vietnam’s first free trade agreement with a foreign partner since the country became an official member of the World Health Organization (WTO). For Japan, this is the tenth agreement of this kind.
The agreement is of great importance as it has created the necessary legal framework for both Vietnam and Japan to do business together. It covers a wide spectrum, including trade, investment, industry, agriculture, labour resources, and intellectual property rights.
Under the agreement, both countries will attempt to slash more than 92 percent of export and import taxes over the next 10 years. Up to 94.53 percent of Vietnam’s exports to Japan will enjoy tax reductions, while the corresponding figure for Japan will be 87.66 percent. The most preferential tariffs will be reserved for seafoods, farm produce, textiles and garments, steel, chemicals, and electronic spare parts.
The approval of this agreement has lived up to the aspirations of the business communities from both countries as well as their citizens.
Mr. Vu Van Trung
VOV: What should Vietnam do to bring the agreement into effect?
Mr Trung: I believe that both parties, and Vietnam in particular, will have to make a great deal of effort to implement the agreement and build on the benefits it offers.
For example, Vietnam should diversify its high-quality exports, reduce their prices, and cater to the various tastes of the Japanese market. The country should also change the structure of its manufactured industrial products.
In the near future, Vietnam must pay more attention to both production and health and hygiene inspections to ensure food safety. We still have to work harder to minimize health violations in frozen shrimp exports. At present, some fruits and vegetable are not allowed to enter Japan in their raw form due to quarantine-related problems.
In regards to this issue, Japan and Vietnam have agreed to build a centre for assessing agricultural products exported to Japan.
In terms of human resources training, Japan has strict stipulations on the recruitment of guest workers in the medical sector and other services. Both countries will standardize the training of nurses and hospital orderlies as well as other groups of workers./.