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 Customs clearance of import and export goods at seaports. (Photo:  TTXVN)

Vietnam's import-export turnover in recent years has continuously been a bright spot of the economy. Typically, recently, when the COVID-19 pandemic became extremely complicated and unpredictable in most countries and economies with which Vietnam has trade relations, exports in 2021 will still grow "double digits". ,” is indeed an unexpected result.

Having this success, according to experts, participation in free trade agreements (FTAs) such as CPTPP, EVFTA and recently RCEP ... is an important lever to help businesses participate in price chains. value and new production, thereby accessing many market segments, minimizing risks and improving export value.

Breakthroughs from FTAs

In 2021, Vietnam's total import-export turnover will reach $668.55 billion, of which exports will reach more than $336.3 billion, up 19% compared to 2020; imports reached 332.2 billion USD, up 26.5%, helping to have a trade surplus of more than 4 billion USD.

The above result has a significant contribution from taking advantage of free trade agreements (FTAs) that Vietnam has signed.

According to a representative of the Import-Export Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade), the implementation of FTAs ​​in the last 2 years has achieved positive results, especially new generation FTAs ​​such as the Vietnam-EU Agreement (EVFTA), the Partnership Agreement between the EU and Vietnam. Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the UK-Vietnam Agreement (UKVFTA).

[Trade flourished, Vietnam's exports increased by more than 16% in 4 months]

For example, for the EU market, in 2020, although this market faces difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the first five months of implementing the EVFTA (from August to December 2020), Vietnam's trade has increased. positive growth, instead of the previous negative growth, reached 3.8%. Even in the next seven months, the growth rate is 17.8%.

With UKVFTA, right from January 1, 2021, Vietnam's exports to the UK have enjoyed preferential treatment according to the commitments of this agreement and the effect is also clearly seen. In 2021, Vietnam's exports to the UK had a high growth rate of 15.4%. As for the CPTPP, the two markets that have had FTA relations for the first time, Mexico and Canada, have also experienced double-digit growth.

Meanwhile, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement between 10 ASEAN countries (including Vietnam) and 5 non-ASEAN economic partners are: Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Japan and China The country, which took effect from the beginning of 2022, is considered a new "lever" in the export of Vietnamese goods to a number of important markets such as China and the ASEAN region.

According to Associate Professor, Dr. Pham Tat Thang, senior expert of the Institute for Strategic and Policy Studies of Industry and Trade (Ministry of Industry and Trade), so far, Vietnam has exploited the Chinese market mainly through exports. sub-category.

However, with RCEP - this is a new opportunity to help increase exports, but businesses must change their "doing" ways and consider this as a high-end market to exploit all opportunities. As for the ASEAN market, for many years, Vietnam still mainly imported from this market.

Therefore, with the signing of the RCEP Agreement, together with high-level FTAs ​​such as CPTPP, EVFTA... will help Vietnamese enterprises diversify markets and reduce trade deficit from a number of partners.

It is estimated that the total number of countries participating in RCEP accounts for about 30% of global GDP and 30% of the world's population. With great potential, experts believe that the RCEP agreement will help increase quality inputs for consumption and production as well as export, helping Vietnam to participate in the value chain, thereby recovering the economy. post-COVID-19 and reduce risk.

Ms. Le Hang, Deputy Director of VASEP.PRO Center under the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), assessed that seafood exports to the RCEP market currently account for more than 50% of the total seafood export turnover. of Vietnam.

“The unification of rules of origin creates very favorable conditions for the circulation of supply chains in the bloc, in which Vietnamese seafood enterprises import raw materials from the ASEAN market to export to five partners participating in the Agreement. RCEP regulations as well as importing raw materials from those 5 big countries to process for their own partners in these countries,” added Ms. Le Hang.

Convert from quantity to quality

As analyzed by many experts, together with the signed FTAs, the RCEP agreement serves as a support to help Vietnam diversify its import and export markets, thereby helping to expand its growth.

Therefore, in order to fully exploit the opportunities that the agreement brings, Mr. Nguyen Anh Duong, Head of the General Research Department, Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), noted that the business community needs to carefully study commitments of the RCEP Agreement and does not separate RCEP from other FTAs ​​in its business strategy, and considers RCEP as the center in connecting "supply chains".

In particular, fromGiven the opportunity to increase exports to RCEP markets over the past time, Mr. Nguyen Anh Duong said that businesses need to actively "increasing quality", attaching importance to standards and quality for goods exported to RCEP markets. as with CPTPP and EVFTA to be competitive and benefit.

More specifically, it is a strategy to improve export capacity, which focuses not only on price competition but also on quality competition.

Like other FTAs, the RCEP Agreement creates a fiercer competitive environment, so businesses need to be proactive to be ready to adapt to trade remedies that many countries impose on exports. from other countries.

Mr. Luong Hoang Thai, Director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade), said that in order to take advantage of this agreement successfully, our initiative must be much higher.

“The initiative here is not only from the business community but also from the State agencies guiding businesses to take advantage of, and only when we are more active and proactive can we effectively exploit the advantages of this situation. market where it has such great potential…,” emphasized Mr. Luong Hoang Thai.

- Vietnam's exports to some Southeast Asian countries in the first quarter of 2022:

The report of the Center for WTO and Integration (Vietnam Federation of Trade and Public Affairs) shows that the member countries of RCEP are the largest foreign investors in Vietnam.

Among the top 10 largest sources of foreign direct investment in Vietnam (accumulated by the end of June 2021), there are 6 RCEP countries (including Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, Malaysia and Thailand), with a total Cumulative registered capital accounts for 61% of the total foreign investment capital that Vietnam has attracted.

Therefore, the signing and implementation of RCEP is expected to increase investment from this area. This can be an opportunity for Vietnamese businesses looking for cooperation and joint ventures with foreign partners.

From a trade perspective, RCEP countries are the largest source of imports to Vietnam, especially raw materials and machinery and equipment for many manufacturing and export industries.

According to experts, this is an opportunity for businesses to have good-priced inputs and quality technology to improve production capacity and competitiveness. Besides, businesses can more easily meet the rules of origin to enjoy preferential tariffs when exporting in RCEP.

However, the supply from RCEP countries may also make it difficult for businesses to compete in the Vietnamese domestic market and thus, with each enterprise's own efforts, the support and improvement capacity for small and medium enterprises and micro enterprises should be paid special attention.