|Visitors at a booth displaying Vietnamese goods at a workshop on exports to Japan through retailer AEON held by the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre. (Photo: VNS)
Speaking at the workshop, held to discuss exports to Japan organised by the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC), Nguyen Huu Tin, its director, said though Vietnam has been able to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, the global situation remains grim, causing a shortage of raw materials and severely affecting export activities.
“In the ‘new normal state’ Vietnamese businesses must apply advanced technologies, improve their production capacity and competitiveness, develop new supply chains, and seek new export markets.
“Japan is one of Vietnam’s biggest trade partners, accounting for a large proportion of some of Vietnam’s key exports such as garment-textiles and fisheries.”
Nishitohge Yasuo, general director of AEON Vietnam, said the country’s exports through his company’s network were worth US$381 million last year, of which 75 per cent were garments.
The exports of food items and consumer goods remained low, he said.
Yuichiro Shiotani, general director of AEON Topvalu Vietnam, said Japan is the world’s third biggest economy with highly demanding requirements of imports, especially food, garment-textiles, footwear, fisheries, agricultural, plastic and wood products.
These are many products that Vietnam has advantages of, and AEON has prioritised their import from Vietnam, particularly of apparel, food and household and healthcare products for distribution through its stores globally, he said.
It has provided technical support to improve the production capabilities of Vietnamese suppliers, helped them access Japanese customers and increased the purchase of Vietnamese goods to sell at its stores in Japan and elsewhere, he said.
Nguyễn Thị Duy Xuân, director of AEON Vietnam’s supplier management division, said to enter the supermarket system, suppliers need to meet stringent technical standards and requirements.
“The product must not have a low reputation for quality. They must have the required licences and certificates. Shipping conditions and product containers must conform to the requirements of each type of product. Products must meet Vietnamese requirements related to traceability and environmental protection. The use of plant protection drugs, antibiotics, veterinary drugs, and others in production must also comply with Vietnamese regulations.”
Shiotani said Vietnamese businesses need to enhance investment, expand scale, improve the quality of their products, and produce in the form of original equipment manufacturer (OEM), among others.
AEON has stringent conditions for export partners, he said. “For example, the production scale must be 10 times the quantity ordered and enterprises must have experience in producing those products.”
AEON also has a code of conduct for export partners, which involves basically complying with the laws of the country to which they export their products.
It has provisions related to child labour, forced labour, hygiene and safety, discipline, working time, wages and benefits, management responsibilities, and environmental protection.
AEON makes an assessment of prospective vendors’ factories before signing any agreement.
Tomoaki Fukui, senior director of AEON Topvalu product division, said the Japanese market has its own standards and so does AEON.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Japanese company have signed a memorandum of understanding under which AEON is committed to increasing Vietnam’s exports through its supply network to $500 million this year and $1 billion by 2025.