In the first four months of this year, Vietnam’s imports from China were estimated at nearly US$10 billion and its export earnings at US$3.9 billion, creating a trade deficit of around US$6 billion.
Dao Ngoc Chuong, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Asia-Pacific Department, says most items imported into Vietnam were for industrial production and major contractors turned out to be Chinese. Meanwhile, export earnings from China remained at a modest level.
Economist Vo Tri Thanh is seriously concerned about how could Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises become less dependent on materials imported from China. He believed that not a few Vietnamese enterprises will come a cropper when they are unable to compete with Chinese goods.
Many experts argue that investing more in Vietnam’s support industry is the only way to stem the flow of Chinese goods into the domestic market. Vietnam should create the best possible conditions for multinational groups to do business and develop supporting industry. Managing legal trans-border trade is also a crucial factor behind stable production and export performance.
Thanh says that once tariffs are removed as required during recent negotiations for the free trade agreements (FTA), Vietnam will have to focus on competitiveness, license granting, services, and trade. But it will take time before Vietnam enterprises become less dependent.
Many cases of low quality Chinese goods into Vietnam have been exposed in the media. There is growing fear among consumers that they might buy some Chinese agricultural and forestry products containing toxic residue under the disguise of “made-in Vietnam” brand names.
Vu Kim Hanh, President of Vietnamese High Quality Product Business Association, says there is no denying that a huge volume of Chinese agricultural and seafood products have been imported into Vietnam illegally. So, there must be coordinated efforts to intensify across-border trade inspections.
An official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development acknowledges the negative impact of illegal Chinese imports but says it’s no easy task to control smuggling routes.
Another official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade official says as central agencies are facing staff shortage, local authorities must shoulder anti-trafficking responsibility, too.