Breaking the disadvantage increasing exports to the Japanese market


Breaking the disadvantage, increasing exports to the Japanese market
Dragon fruitis one of the fresh fruits that meet export standards to Japan. Photo: provided by the company

Lots of room for development

Assessing the potential of exports to the Japanese market at the seminar “Promoting trade relations between Vietnam and the Japanese and Korean markets in the new situation” held recently, Do Quoc Hung, Deputy Head of Department Head of the Asia-Africa Market Department, Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that Japan is the fourth largest trading partner (after China, South Korea and the United States), and the fourth largest export market (after the United States), China, Korea), the 3rd largest import market (after China, Korea) of Vietnam. From the statistics of Vietnam’s export turnover to Japan and the size of this country’s consumer market, it is possible to see the potential and opportunities for export to the Japanese market. Especially in the key fields of Vietnam, such as textiles, footwear, and agricultural and aquatic products, the export potential to this market is still very large.

Typically, Japan’s textile and garment import turnover is 23.8 billion USD, but Vietnam’s export turnover to Japan is only 2.9 billion USD, accounting for 12.1% market share; Japan’s leather and footwear import turnover reached 4.5 billion USD, but the export turnover from Vietnam to Japan in this industry only reached 823 million USD, accounting for 18.2% of the market share. In particular, each year, Japan spends up to 981 million USD to import fresh and dried bananas, but Vietnam only accounts for 0.6% of the market share, equivalent to an export turnover of 6.6 million USD.

Keigo Yoshida, Senior Director in charge of the product department of Aeon Topvalu Vietnam Co., Ltd., Vice President of the Japan Business Association in Ho Chi Minh City (JCCH), said that Vietnamese goods are increasingly popular in the market. In the Japanese market, export items are increasing year by year. Currently, Japan has a great demand for fresh fruit products in Vietnam. Therefore, JCCH wishes the two Governments to have more signings or new agreements to promote the export of more fresh fruits.

Seizing this opportunity, in early 2023, Hoang Phat Co., Ltd. in Long An officially exported the first batch of logan to Japan. After dragon fruit, mango and lychee, fresh logan was present in Japan. A lot of 1-ton logan was transported by air to be on shelves at Japanese supermarkets after 4 days. After that, each month, Hoang Phat Co., Ltd. in Long An is expected to supply about 70-100 tons of fresh logan by sea and by air to this market.

Remove the disadvantages

Pham Binh An, Deputy Director of the Institute for Research and Development of Ho Chi Minh City, said that Japan is one of the major economies and is also a leading trade partner of Vietnam. However, the proportion of Vietnam’s goods export turnover in the total import turnover of the Japanese market is still modest, accounting for 2.7%, respectively, although Vietnam has signed and implemented FTAs with Japan.

The reason is said by businesses that in recent years, Japan’s import standards have become increasingly strict. In the agricultural and fishery industry alone, in the past 5 years, the number of returned cases of Vietnamese shipments exported to Japan has nearly doubled, from 54 cases in 2018 to 90 cases in 2022. Therefore, not only agricultural and aquatic products are facing difficulties, but the textile and garment industry also has to continuously face challenges when not only having to be durable and diverse in designs but also meet environmentally friendly standards.

With strict standards, enterprises lack information about market demand, marketing methods, and competitors, so exports to the Japanese market are still limited. In addition, businesses have not effectively exploited distribution channels and management capacity is still weak.

Besides, to promote exports to this market, Vietnamese businesses should note that the Japanese market has a rapid change in product designand fast and short product turnover. Therefore, in the coming time, Vietnamese manufacturing enterprises need to promote links with Japanese enterprises to profoundly investigate the market and develop products according to the needs and tastes of Japanese consumers. In particular, diverse products, easily customized to adapt to small quantities, will be today’s new consumption trend. Furthermore, Vietnamese enterprises need to shorten the production and packaging time of products to reduce the time from ordering to Japanese consumers.

Keigo Yoshida noted that agricultural products need freshness, so transportation is very important;Vietnamese businesses must keep this in mind when exporting goods to Japan to bring high value for export goods.

In addition, Vietnamese enterprises have to compete on price with similar Chinese products in the Japanese market. While Chinese enterprises have a wealth of experience in manufacturing low-cost consumer goods, most Vietnamese enterprises have only invested in factories for a short period, with high asset depreciation rates and less labour advantage, so the cost is higher.


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