Many opportunities to accelerate exports
In the last days of 2021, a year of many changes and difficulties not only for Vietnamese businesses but also worldwide, has passed. The results obtained do not fully describe the hardships, the breakthrough transformations, and the concerns of “finding opportunities in danger” of each business and each industry.
For example, with the textile industry, Mr. Cao Huu Hieu, General Director of Vietnam Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), said: “In 2021, there was a time when it seemed that we had fallen into despair.”
Difficulties, especially for businesses in the southern provinces, when they have to apply social distancing, lead to the production chain being almost broken. Therefore, the result of reaching the figure of US$39 billion in export turnover in 2021 (up 11.2% compared to 2020 and up 0.3% compared to 2019) is considered a miracle.
Similarly, in the seafood industry, talking to Customs News, the Director General of Fisheries (MARD) Tran Dinh Luan said: “In 2021, the seafood industry had escaped spectacularly”.
By the end of October 2021, the whole industry forecast that the whole year’s exports would reach about US$8.4 – 8.6 billion instead of the final result of US$8.89 billion. However, in the last months of the year, the situation improved markedly. Especially, in December 2021 alone, seafood export value reached US$900 million.
Continuing the growth momentum, Vietnam’s exports of many important commodities in 2022 are seen as having many prospects, although difficulties continue.
For the textile and garment industry, Mr. Truong Van Cam, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), said that, up to now, many enterprises in the industry have had export orders until April and May 2022. In the most positive scenario, the pandemic is basically controlled in the first quarter of 2022, textile and garment exports for the whole year can reach about US$41.5 – US$42.5 billion.
Similarly, despite identifying many difficulties, the seafood industry also sets an export target of US$8.9 billion in 2022. The leader of the General Department of Fisheries said that the world economy would grow again after the vaccination strategy for the whole population was implemented, the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. At the same time, Vietnam had the advantage of the incentives of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) and the Vietnam-EU FTA (EVFTA), which are advantages for exports in the future.
Looking back at the whole import-export landscape in 2021 to make a judgment for 2022, besides the impressive numbers, Mr. Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Import-Export Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade), said export products of Vietnam were gradually diversifying, becoming richer in types and models.
Some products had a large market share and high position, meeting consumer tastes in the target market. Domestic enterprises were also focusing on investing in the processing and manufacturing industry and gradually shifting to products with added value and high technology content. “With encouraging results achieved, exports would continue to be the main growth engine for Vietnam’s economy in 2022,” the leader of the Import-Export Department said.
According to economic expert Can Van Luc, in the context that Vietnam has partly controlled the pandemic, it has contributed to a better recovery from major trading partners such as the United States, China, EU, ASEAN. It is forecast that in 2022, Vietnam’s total import-export turnover might grow by 13-15%.
Looking at 2022, Asia could witness a remarkable export recovery and Vietnam was the country that continues to take advantage of opportunities to accelerate exports. Andrew Jeffries, country director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Vietnam, said: “Vietnamese enterprises needed to quickly seize this opportunity to boost exports in 2022, improved the quality of goods to penetrate deeply into many large markets.”
Thrust from FTAs
In 2021, contributing to the result of US$668.5 billion, import and export played an important role in enforcement, making good use of incentives from FTAs.
Until now, Vietnam has signed 15 FTAs, both bilateral and multilateral, including new generation FTAs such as CPTPP, EVFTA, Vietnam-UK FTA (UKVFTA). Tran Quoc Khanh said: “The successful negotiation and signing of many FTAs with leading important trading partners had helped Vietnam’s import-export turnover grow strongly.”
Mr. Tran Thanh Hai said that after three years of implementing the CPTPP and more than a year of implementing the EVFTA, there had been very positive impacts on Vietnam’s goods export activities, especially from markets where Vietnam’s goods are exported but Vietnam has never signed an FTA. For example, thanks to the CPTPP, goods exports to Canada, Mexico and Peru all had growth rates of 25-30%/year.
With the EU, thanks to EVFTA, even though Vietnam was severely affected by the 4th outbreak of the pandemic in the southern key export region, in the first 11 months of 2021, two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU still reached US$51.3 billion, up 13.8% over the same period in 2020.
Vietnam witnessed a trade surplus of US$20.6 billion to the EU, up 9.8% compared to the same period last year. The Ministry of Industry and Trade forecasts that in 2022, Vietnam’s exports to the EU market would grow more positively than in 2021 because Vietnamese enterprises are increasingly taking advantage of incentives from the EVFTA.
Besides the new generation FTAs that are being implemented, creating a good impetus for Vietnam’s import and export such as CPTPP, EVFTA, it would be a mistake if it was not to mention the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) officially entered into force since January 1, 2022.
This new generation FTA was expected to open more opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to boost exports, create a stable and long-term export market for ASEAN countries in general and Vietnam in particular, and contribute to promoting the implementation of Vietnam’s policy on building an export-oriented production base.
From a product perspective, making good use of the FTA and continuing to expect this push in 2022 can typically include the wood industry.
Talking to Customs News, Mr. Bui Chinh Nghia, Deputy Director of the General Department of Forestry (MARD), said: “In 2021, processing enterprises took advantage of the opportunity to develop and expand the market in the context of the US-China trade war and opportunities from FTAs that Vietnam participates in. The export value of wood and forest products to some traditional markets kept a high growth rate such as China at 23.7%; United States was 21.4%; EU was 14.4%; Japan was 6.7%; Korea was 5.7%. In 2022, Vietnam’s ratification and implementation according to the roadmap of bilateral and multilateral FTAs such as CPTPP, EVFTA, and RCEP would continue to be significant advantages for exports.”
With a “leading” enterprise in the textile industry like Vinatex, in order to be able to meet the rules of origin and make the best use of opportunities from FTAs in 2022, this unit has prepared quite carefully. “In 2021, Vinatex had expanded its investment in building new factories that were put into operation for the Yarn Factory 3 (Phu Bai Yarn Joint Stock Company) with a scale of 32,000 spindles from June 2021; Yarn Factory 2 (Vinatex Phu Hung Joint Stock Company) with a scale of 22,800 spindles which was put into operation from October 2021. This was the basis for Vinatex to improve its competitiveness in order to meet the requirements of rules of origin of FTAs such as CPTPP, EVFTA,” Hieu said.
Affirming that Vietnam was one of the countries making good use of FTAs, Trinh Minh Anh, Chief of the Office of the Inter-sectoral Steering Committee for International Economic Integration, said that in the future, management agencies should focus on solutions to strengthen and expand export markets, take full advantage of FTAs which are already in effect, guide enterprises to focus on small and niche markets; strengthen the management of import and export of a number of strategic products.