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One more tool to support businesses exporting to ASEAN

11:06 | 21/10/2019

VCN- To help businesses export goods to ASEAN, the ASEAN Secretariat has developed an online tool to consult solutions for businesses exporting goods and services to ASEAN (ASSIST – The ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade).  

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It is almost impossible for small and medium-sized businesses to sell goods into big supermarkets in foreign countries without the help of a reputable association or organisation. Photo: ST

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After nearly four years of joining the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), many Vietnamese enterprises have found solutions to enter and participate more deeply in the ASEAN market. Meanwhile, goods from ASEAN countries have flooded into Vietnam, especially Thai goods. This has created significant pressure for Vietnamese businesses to compete against ASEAN nations in production, business and service.

According to many businesses, to enter the ASEAN market, having a good product is not enough because it is difficult to connect or find a partner who wants to work with them by themselves. It is almost impossible for a small and medium-sized enterprise to bring goods to big supermarket chains without the help of a reputable association or organisation.

Pham Ngoc Anh, Import-Export Manager of Tuong Anh Processing and Export Trading Co., Ltd - an enterprise that has exported some natural soap products to Malaysia and Indonesia, said to connect with foreign businesses, the company had the support of an association in advance and then had the opportunity to negotiate with foreign businesses.

“But that is not enough because the most important is that businesses must learn the habits, preferences and especially the culture of the host country so that they can produce products with designs, flavours, colours just to serve the customers of that country. We cannot do the same product for all ASEAN businesses, but we will make a difference for each product, which is suitable to the culture and habits of each nation. In the Indonesian market, for example, products containing jasmine, grapefruit or mango smell are very popular with a large number of orders. Meanwhile, the Malaysian market prefers products related to activated carbon, coconut oil and rice bran. Thanks to our in-depth market research, our export orders have increased by about 20-30 percent over the previous year,” said Ngoc Anh.

As an enterprise specialising in purchasing and exporting agricultural products, Nguyen Thi Dung, Deputy Manager of Import and Export Department of Thinh Phat Agricultural Products Processing and Export Company, said through the provincial Business Associations and Trade Promotion Center, they were be able to meet and discuss with foreign businesses that conducted field surveys in Vietnam every year. Then they would have more opportunities to introduce their raw material areas, farming processes, farmers' production, and quality control process. So they could help foreign businesses have enough information about the source of goods in Vietnam.

Online tool consulting solutions for businesses

Assessing the potential of the ASEAN market, Nguyen Vu Kien, Deputy Head of the International Relations Department (Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry), said ASEAN was a large market and had opened to all trade relations, exchange of services for import and export goods between the member nations. However, to ensure transparency, fairness of rights and reduce the situation of complaints and disputes between businesses and functional management representatives in the countries, a consultation mechanism is needed to help businesses solve problems in the process of conducting procedures for import and export or customs clearance across borders. This would not only contribute to improving business activities and trade exchange among the ASEAN countries but also promote a favourable, positive and perfect business environment in the whole region.

To facilitate businesses to export goods to ASEAN, the ASEAN Secretariat (including Vietnam) has built an online tool to give advices on solutions for enterprises exporting goods and services to the ASAEN market (ASSIST). Specifically, ASSIST will be connected to the ASEAN Portal (ATR - providing information on laws, regulations, standards, facilitation of goods transport, and customs procedures in ASEAN) to help businesses interact directly with ASEAN government agencies to receive advice on removing obstacles, difficulties and barriers when trading within the ASEAN community.

On the online consulting solution for businesses when exporting to the ASEAN market (ASSIST -, Paolo R Vergano, Trade Facilitation Specialist, ARISE Plus said ASSIST aimed to become an effective tool for trade facilitation and regional economic integration.

“Accordingly, businesses based in ASEAN that are facing a number of issues related to trade in goods or services in the ASEAN region may file a complaint through an ASEAN-based association or remain anonymous by using an ASEAN registered lawyer or law firm. The ASSIST system will address issues related to tariff and non-tariff measures that affect goods, cross-border service issues, and restrictions on investment in several different areas of ASEAN integration. However, ASSIST does not resolve disputes between employees and employers or complaints of discrimination, issues that are or have been sued or arbitrated in national jurisdictions, complaints against individuals or companies, and matters not related to trade, services or investment within ASEAN,” said Paolo R. Vergano.

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Assessing the ASSIST system, Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of Import and Export Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade), said besides the advantages of tariffs, among ASEAN countries, there were still barriers that are non-tariff measures among the ASEAN countries. This affected trade relations between Vietnam and the ASEAN countries. The ASSIST online tool would help Vietnamese businesses look up information related to non-tariff measures of the ASEAN countries. Moreover, if Vietnamese enterprises encountered situations of discrimination in import and export activities, they could complain. This was an extremely useful tool to help businesses explore the ASEAN market.

By Xuan Thao/ Ha Thanh