The event called, “HCMC International Economic Integration Forum 2018: Trade Facilitation and Enhancing Competitiveness,” has been held in HCMC recently by the HCMC Institute for Development Studies, the HCMC International Integration Support Center, and the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).
The forum gathered some 300 delegates, including officials from the HCMC government, ministries, international organizations, enterprises, universities and research institutes from the city and other neighboring provinces.
Trade facilitation is not only a commitment of Vietnam when joining free trade agreements (FTAs) but also a measure to enhance businesses’ competitiveness and the efficiency of their import and export activities, according to many delegates.
They further commented that FTAs may have significantly reduced import tariffs on Vietnamese goods in many markets. However, administrative reform, reduction in trading costs and improvements in the business environment are key to raising the nation’s competitiveness.
Nguyen Anh Duong, head of the Macroeconomic Policy Department at CIEM, said Vietnam’s trade facilitation ranking is far below those of neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
In the World Bank’s trading across borders rankings, Vietnam ranks 94th out of 190 economies; in the World Economic Forum’s enabling trade index, it is placed 73rd out of 136 economies, and it stands at 64th out of 160 in the World Bank’s logistics performance index.
Ngo Chung Khanh, deputy head of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department at the trade ministry, told the delegates of the forum that FTAs have helped enhance the competitiveness of the domestic business community through market access and increased exports.
He noted that FTAs have promoted the Government’s administrative reform, improved infrastructure facilities, ensured equality in accessing resources for development, removed barriers to market access and simplified business conditions.
Such trade pacts also provide assured market access since the World Trade Organization is facing various challenges. Vietnam’s FTAs are active across five continents, thereby helping curb these risks.
Khanh said FTAs have opened up ample opportunities for local firms to join global supply chains. For example, some 200 local firms are supplying parts for the Republic of Korea’s Samsung.
Given increased protectionism around the world, the country should find ways to speed up its administrative reform and improve its business environment to overcome emerging challenges, according to the senior official.
At the forum, the Vietnam information trade portal at http://vietnamtradeportal.gov.vn was launched, covering information and regulations on merchandise export, import and transit.