Capitalising on TPP agreement

(VOV) -The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will create both opportunities and challenges for the local agricultural, garments and footwear sectors, a seminar was told in Ho Chi Minh City on August 21.

The event was jointly held by the Saigon Economics Times and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to shed light on updated information on TPP agreement.

Diep Thanh Kiet, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), said TPP will help improve the business climate in Vietnam. However, he said, local firms should promptly grasp opportunities and overcome challenges in a more open market after Vietnam joins this free trade agreement.

Since November 2010, Vietnam has been involved in official TPP negotiations together with New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, Australia, Peru, the US, Malaysia, Canada, and Mexico, which are all potential markets for Vietnamese garments and footwear, he added.

According to Le Quang Hung, Chairman of the Management Board of the Saigon Garment Company, a number of free trade agreements Vietnam has signed has come into effect, creating more favourable conditions for local businesses to seek foreign partners and expand overseas markets.

Nevertheless, Hung said, these trade agreements will also create barriers against Vietnamese businesses, including tough competition, materials supply and labour force.

Regarding the agricultural sector, Van Duc Muoi, Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Food Association, pointed out that local farmers are among the most vulnerable during the international integration process because Vietnam’s agricultural sector is not sustainable and farmers are low-income earners.

Vietnam will find it difficult in TPP negotiations because its agricultural sector is usually provided with state subsidy. With strict technical barriers erected in the TPP agreement, the local agricultural sector will not benefit from tariff reductions, he said.

Muoi stressed that it is essential to have specific commitments for the agricultural sector and relax TPP members’ requirements.

Economist Pham Chi Lan noted that as global trade has shifted from trade liberalisation to trade facilitation, commercial value is based on such factors as added value and inter-dependence of industry, services and agriculture to create the competitive capacity.

She suggested local businesses build up new development strategies to take advantage of TPP when it is signed.