Vietnam’s exports to the EU grew significantly in recent years, with Vietnam’s trade surplus in the market reaching nearly EUR20 billion in 2015, mostly from exports of agricultural products and foodstuff.
The Vietnam-EU free trade agreement (EVFTA), scheduled to take effect from 2018, is expected to bring about opportunities for enterprises of both sides in seeking new markets for high quality farm produce.
According to Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam is a promising market for EU businesses in agriculture and food.
During his recent visit to Vietnam, Hogan and 42 EU firms met with Vietnamese businesses to forge stronger EU-Vietnam partnerships and realise the EVFTA.
The EU has been the world’s top exporter of farm produce and foodstuff, with 2015 revenue of 129 billion EUR, including 8.4 billion EUR in the Vietnamese market, noted Hogan.
The EU market has highest food safety requirements in the world, he said, adding that EU products with advantages in Vietnam include milk, pork, poultry products, wine and fresh fruit.
Vietnamese products enjoying advantages in the EU are cashew, peppercorn and aquaculture products, he said. Hogan also expressed his belief that two-way trade will continue to thrive once tariff barriers are removed in 2018.
According to Hogan, the EU will not lower standards for imported farm produce and foodstuff.
The EU will send back all products failing to meet its requirements. Therefore, Vietnamese firms who wish to enter the market should enhance the quality of their products, advised Hogan, adding that many Vietnamese enterprises have succeeded in exporting their products to the European market.
Meanwhile, Miriam Garcia Ferrer, First Counsellor and head of the Economic and Trade Section of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, asserted that Vietnamese exporters should study the EU market more.
European consumers are keen on Vietnamese specialties, she said, adding that the impressive growth of Vietnam’s exports in the EU in recent years, mostly contributed by agricultural products and foodstuff, reflected the high potential.
The potential will be optimised through the implementation of the bilateral FTA as well as tax removal beginning from 2018. We believe that the FTA will benefit both sides, said Ferrer.
Being aware of challenges that Vietnamese firms face in meeting its technical and transparency requirements, the EU side has worked to assist them, she said.
She held that many Vietnamese firms are worried when accessing the EU market due to high requirements in quality, origin, package and label. However, it’s time to change their mindset, she said, affirming that once the products are accepted in the EU, they will be accepted elsewhere.
The requirements may cause difficulties for Vietnamese products in the short term, but they also allow Vietnam to affirm the prestige and competitiveness of its products, she stated.
She also suggested Vietnamese firms better understand the preferences they will enjoy in the EU market.
In 2015, Vietnam-EU trade reached 38.4 billion EUR, with Vietnam ’s export reaching 29.9 billion EUR.
In the year, Vietnam ranked 21 st among the EU’s trade partners, while the EU was the second largest partner of Vietnam after China.