Ample Room for Agri-food Trade between Vietnam and EU

9:38:51 AM | 7/20/2022

Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture of the European Union (EU), and Mr. Tran Thanh Nam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, affirmed at the Vietnam - EU Agriculture Forum in Ho Chi Minh City recently that the trade cooperation on agriculture between Vietnam and EU still had a lot of room for development.

The event was organized by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Ho Chi Minh City Branch, in collaboration with the European Commission (EC), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, and the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (Eurocham).

According to Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski, agro-forestry-fishery products are the items that enjoy great incentives from the EVFTA, opening up a lot of opportunities for Vietnamese agribusiness to successfully penetrate the EU market. With the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), Vietnam's agricultural, forestry and fishery exports to the EU are forecast to grow even more strongly in 2022. Another advantage is that the structure of Vietnam's agricultural exports is not directly competitive, but complementary to each other. This means that the EU and Vietnam still have a lot of room in trade cooperation on agricultural products.

Sharing the same view, Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam emphasized that trade values in the agricultural sector between Vietnam and the EU have continuously improved in recent years, especially since the EVFTA is effective. The two-way trade turnover in this sector between Vietnam and the EU increased from US$4.3 billion in 2015 to US$4.5 billion in 2020, US$5.2 billion in 2021 and US$2.66 billion in the first five months of 2022.

Mr. Nam added that during the visit by Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski, the leaders of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development together with the EU Commissioner for Agriculture had a working session to facilitate trade and investment of both sides in the field of agriculture. They also discussed the market opening and trade facilitation for agricultural, forestry and fishery products that both sides have advantages and jointly supported the review and expansion of the list of products protected by Geographical Indications (GI) of both sides. This is an opportunity for both Vietnam and EU countries to develop high-value handicraft products and specialties and help people and consumers better understand the culture and traditions of each country.

The advantages that EVFTA brings to Vietnam's agricultural industry are huge. However, there remain challenges. The EU market imposes many technical barriers in trade, and strict regulations on food hygiene, safety, and quarantine. When joining EVFTA, the risk of facing trade remedies, anti-dumping, and anti-subsidy also increases significantly. "The requirement now is that the two sides need to strengthen the exchange on our requirements and standards for imported products, and we are ready to cooperate in this regard," Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski confirmed.

According to Vice President Vo Tan Thanh, taking advantage of the EVFTA Agreement, the governments and businesses of Vietnam and the EU need to cooperate more closely to fully exploit the potential of available agricultural strengths, such as building low-carbon agricultural value chains. The EU needs to soon remove the yellow card for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and support Vietnam to strengthen its fisheries management capacity, contributing to ensuring the livelihoods of fishermen as well as the supply of seafood to the EU market and agreeing on the contents of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). On the other hand, Vietnam also requested the EC to support the completion of ratification of the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA). Mr. Thanh said that the great resonance from the two agreements EVFTA and EVIPA would be the most solid and powerful launch pad for the trade ties between Vietnam and the EU in general, and for trade cooperation in agricultural products to achieve new heights.

Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam proposed to organize an annual Vietnam- EU conference on agriculture facilitation and to build a logistics system for agricultural products, toward the establishment of a logistics association for agricultural products between Vietnam and the EU. He also proposed coordination in building a sustainable food security chain to ensure food stability regionally and globally. "We are ready to work closely with the EU to facilitate trade and follow technical standards in accordance with international practices. We do not create new trade barriers to agriculture, forestry and fishery, for the benefit of producers, businesses and consumers of both sides. Vietnam wants to attract FDI projects to develop knowledge agriculture; ecological, circular, and organic agriculture; and regional clusters of industry linkages, associated with large specialized farming areas. We also prioritize foreign investment in processing agricultural, forestry and fishery products, and products with high added value; and developing trade and logistics infrastructure serving agricultural value chains. This will be a solid foundation for businesses of both sides to make the best use of the advantages of Vietnam's agriculture, create new values, and make the best use of the regional and global markets," emphasized Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum