Surmountable export challenges in store this year

TN News

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Vietnamese exports will face a tough year in 2013 owing to the country's weak competitiveness and the global economic crisis, but analysts say local exporters can improve their situation with some smart moves.

Exports increased 18.2 percent last year to hit US$114.6 billion, but Vietnam expects shipments to grow by only 10 percent this year as a tough time is ahead for the sector.

The Saigon Times quoted Tran Tuan Anh, vice minister of the Industry and Trade, as saying that demand has been falling in most of Vietnam's key import countries like the US, the EU and Japan as they have been hit by the global economic slump.

However, there is still a chance for exports since the countries have issued stimulus packages to boost consumption, from which Vietnamese exporters should benefit, Anh said.

Nguyen Trung Dung, commercial counselor of the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan, said that local businesses have been struggling as several import markets impose strict regulations, but he said Vietnamese enterprizes needed to take strides to improve their product quality.

Examples include seafood, for which overall shipments fell 0.3 percent to $6.1 billion.

Dung said Japan, Vietnam's third largest importer, has been checking shipments from Vietnam over concerns about hygiene and it has returned numerous shipments that failed to meet its requirements. Items like shrimp, one of Vietnam's key export items, are being checked "one hundred percent," he added.

However, the number of return shipments has decreased, he said.

On March 15, the Japanese government gave permission to test centers in Vietnam to check the quality of food shipments from the country to Japan, a move that Dung thinks it will place local exporters in a "very good" position to be "proactive" in their exports activities.

He suggested Vietnamese businesses increase joint ventures with Japanese companies so that the latter can help local exporters improve manufacturing technologies and other issues involved in exporting to Japan.

Vu Cuong, commercial counselor of the Vietnamese Embassy in Myanmar, pointed out that local companies lack vision in Vietnam's minor markets like Myanmar.

There were also several cases in which local companies were found exporting low-quality Chinese-made products to Myanmar under their own labels, he added.

Myanmar is not an easy market, he noted, adding that Vietnamese exporters should map out effective strategy to sell goods that meet the demand of its residents, of which one third are middle and high income earners.

Shipments to Myanmar last year totaled US$117.8 million to make up 0.1 percent of Vietnam's exports.

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