HCM City business forum seeks to boost EVFTA implementation

Since the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect in August, 2020, economic and trade co-operation has developed into a bright spot in the overall picture of bilateral ties between Vietnam and the EU, a business forum heard in Ho Chi Minh City on September 29.

The Vietnam - EU business forum held in Ho Chi Minh City by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the EU Delegation to Vietnam attracts many experts and business executives of both sides. (Photo: congthuong.vn)

The EU is currently Vietnam’s leading trading partner as it is the third largest export market and the fifth largest import market of the Southeast Asian nation, according to data compiled by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Furthermore, Eurostat, the statistical agency of the EU, reports that Vietnam surpassed Singapore last year to become the bloc’s largest trading partner in ASEAN, ranking 11th among the largest suppliers of goods to this market.

The two-way trade exchange between both sides has recovered strongly and developed in recent times. Statistics compiled by the General Department of Vietnam Customs indicate that the total import-export turnover between the two sides reached US$61.4 billion between August 2021 and July 2022, up 11.9 % compared to the same period from the previous year when the trade pact came into effect.

Eurostat’s statistics also highlight that initial seven months of the year alone saw the EU import Vietnamese goods worth EUR27.9 billion, up 28.8% over the same period from last year. In contrast, the EU also boosted the export of goods to the Vietnamese market with a turnover of EUR6.9 billion, up 10.7% year on year.

The EVFTA has actively supported Vietnamese and EU goods to access each other’s markets, thereby meeting the needs of supply diversification of both sides. Notably, Vietnamese export items have not only made inroads into major European markets such as Germany, the Netherlands, and France, but also penetrated smaller markets throughout the continent.

The tariff reduction incentives brought in through the EVFTA have significantly contributed to helping the country improve its competitiveness and expand its market share in the EU, while simultaneously gaining access to high-quality European goods.

With regard to investment, the EU currently makes up the fifth largest foreign investor in Vietnam with a total registered capital of US$27.6 billion, as of August. In the initial eight months of the year, the EU poured US$2.2 billion into Vietnam, a rise of 69.6% over the same period from last year.

These are positive signs which can usher in a strong rebound in the development of economic and trade co-operation between Vietnam and the EU moving forward, said Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien at the forum.

According to the Minister, Vietnam is currently enjoying many favourable conditions to carry out export, investment, and trade promotion activities with EU partners as both sides are ramping up post-pandemic recovery efforts.

The Vietnamese Government is keen to support market expansion and strengthen the comprehensive partnership that exists with the EU as well as its member states, thereby creating a great premise to foster bilateral co-operation not only be limited to trade, but also extended to many other areas of economic co-operation, stressed Minister Dien.

The EVFTA not only offers Vietnam the opportunity to expand and diversify its markets, but more importantly helps to accelerate economic restructuring, improve the business environment, and take advantage of co-operation with the EU. In line with this, there is a specific focus on new and important areas such as green - digital transformation, energy transition, circular economy, and sustainable development.

Facing intertwined opportunities and challenges, experts have suggested that businesses actively innovate themselves, improve their capacity, and adjust their production and business strategies in order to quickly adapt to the green roadmap.

This is a mandatory path for businesses as they seek to participate more deeply in the new value chain, with Vietnam choosing businesses with real capacity and determination to connect partners in Europe.