Tran Quang Ha, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Industry Department, said that Vietnamese companies’ participation in the global supply chain was still limited, and that even though product quality was improving, most supporting firms supply simple, low-value components.
To enhance competitiveness, the ministry was pushing for more cooperation between local and foreign firms, as well as more training sessions for firms and business networking events, Ha said.
More favourable policies are also being considered to encourage firms to invest in the supporting industry.
Pham Minh Huong, operating director of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, said that urban areas still preferred foreign goods, and that domestic companies were facing more quality international brands, in addition to more smuggled and fake goods.
She said that companies should improve their production processes and conduct better market research to understand customers’ needs.
Nguyen Huynh Trang, deputy director of HCM City’s Department of Industry and Trade, said the city had organised trade promotion programmes and networking events with other southern authorities, with more and more businesses finding suitable partners.
The city was also buying a great deal of produce from provinces, which allowed provincial specialties to enter HCM City’s distribution networks.
However, many products were still made manually, on a small scale, or without proper certifications required by modern distribution channels.
HCM City and provinces would continue their efforts to link firms from different regions and invest in developing provincial specialties, Trang said.
The city would also push for more semi-processing of produce at the provinces before it is transported to the city to reduce waste and improve product traceability.
Ly Kim Chi, chairwoman of the HCM City Food and Foodstuff Association, said that small- and medium-sized businesses in the food industry were struggling to access big distribution channels due to limited funding and capability.
She said that more favourable tax policies and support policies should be provided to spur growth of small retailers.
Dao Hung, deputy director of the Petrolimex Saigon, noted that products with unclear, misleading labels or unclear origin were still sold in the market, and that some businesses remained unskilled in customer service.
“Businesses have to improve their product and service quality, as consumers now have more options than before, and can’t be persuaded to buy low-quality Vietnamese goods just because of patriotism,” he said.
More inspections to identify fraud and other violations were also needed, as well as public awareness about high-quality goods should be improved, he added.
A campaign to raise awareness of Vietnamese goods among local customers was launched during the conference. The campaign will feature events to help firms promote their products, and will include parades, musical performances and other promotional activities.
At the conference, an exhibition was held to promote products of more than 100 Vietnamese enterprises.