Vietnam has boosted its deeper international integration through the signing of a number of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). However, most of its small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) still fail to grasp issues related to non-tariff barriers in trade transactions, said Hoang Minh Chien, deputy head of Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
He emphasized the importance of enhancing the capacity for businesses to overcome NTBs as a lack of knowledge on these issues has resulted in losses in both production and export activities.
Alain Chevalier, Senior Technical Advisor of International Trade Center (ITC) said non-tariff measures (NTMs) in Vietnam have not followed the regulations that are common in the rest of the world, while the country has become involved in bilateral and multilateral FTAs as well as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Chevalier cited statistics from the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM) as saying that Vietnam currently has 379 non-tariff measures (NTMs), mostly those pertaining to animal-plant quarantine and other technical barriers that exist in trade (TBTs).
He pointed out that both SMEs and other relevant agencies are not fully aware of NTMs, noting that they should be fully provided with information and training courses in order to deal with NTMs set by foreign markets.
Vietrade has recently coordinated with ITC to to provide technical assistance that supports Vietnamese export businesses in reducing trade costs and ensuring transparency of information to tackle non-tariff- related issues that may occur in foreign markets.
According to Chien,Vietnam’s trade competitive capacity project will focus on surveying service providers and commodity production businesses thus enabling Vietnamese enterprises to identify trade regulations and other formalities in export activities.
Vianney Lesaffre, Market Analyst at ITC, said with regard to the joint project with Vietrade that ITC has made various attempts to reduce trade costs such as helping management agencies to build national mechanisms that deal with trade barriers related to NTMs. In particular, the project focuses on capacity building of Vietnamese SMEs to grasp information on regulations and other non-tariff procedures across a broad range of import markets.
Under the project, a series of surveys have been conducted on various Vietnamese businesses across groups and industries, thus providing consultation to reduce trade costs related to NTMs. It also provides a trade barrier warning mechanism through which both the Government and businesses are able to cope with trade barriers in a more timely manner, Mr Vianney Lesaffre noted.
Nguyen Thi Xuan Thuy, head of the Industry Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, advised businesses to get information on NTMs in import-export activities and learn about NTMs applied in import markets, in the face of ever-changing trade policies in order to devise proper orientations for more effective business operations towards the protection of both businesses and domestic consumers, she added.