With Vietnam taking on the role of ASEAN Chair for 2020, the position is expected to create a range of opportunities to elevate the country’s profile regionally and internationally, while simultaneously expanding trade and investment activities with other members of the bloc.
|Businesses eye consumer trends to penetrate ASEAN market
ASEAN represents the nation’s fourth largest export market with a turnover of nearly US$24 billion last year. During the first five months of the year the country’s exports to other ASEAN members reached only US$9.8 billion, with this disappointing figure being put down to the negative impact caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
Aside from causing numerous difficulties, the COVID-19 epidemic has also served to create plenty of opportunities for Vietnamese agricultural products to conquer regional markets such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.
According to the Vietnamese trade office in Singapore, the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic has led to the trade office actively strengthening connectivity with associations and businesses in an effort to boost the export of agricultural products and food items to Singapore.
Indeed, March alone saw the trade office help firms to place more than 20 orders for agricultural products.
Since the beginning of this year, fruit and vegetable exports to Thailand have increased sharply. Most notably, the first four months saw fruit and vegetable exports to the Thai market enjoy an annual rise of over 244% to US$58 million.
According to economic experts, the ASEAN Economic Community has been presented with opportunities, whilst a number of challenges are being posed for the country which will face fierce competition from other nations in the bloc.
Experts have therefore advised enterprises to restructure their production activities and change their business mindset in an effort to meet market demand and ensure sustainable development.
With regard to the export of rice to the Philippines, Nguyen Van Thanh, director of Phat Thanh VI Company, recommends that domestic businesses try to improve product quality whilst ensuring a reasonable price in order to compete with regional rivals.
Nguyen Thanh Hai, general director of Quy Phuc Manufacturing and Trading Co., Ltd, emphasised that as a means of making inroads into the ASEAN market, local enterprises have been urged to devise a business strategy in order to follow consumer trends and connect with reputable domestic distributors.
Fukunari Kimura, Chief Economist of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, suggested that firms give priority to consumers’ tastes and largely focus on the application of technology in the new era of digitalisation to boost trade and investment activities.