HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese enterprises were looking forward to promoting their businesses under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to take advantage of a market that is home to 50 per cent of the global population. However, they were faced with fierce competition from other member countries.
The statement was made by Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s WTO Integration Centre Nguyễn Thị Thu Trang at a conference in Hà Nội on Thursday.
The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN countries and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. Its negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The negotiation process is in the final stages.
Speaking at the conference, Trang said consumer characteristics of the RCEP were not that different except in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and the demand for top Vietnamese products was quite high, especially tropical agricultural products and processed food. In addition, China and India, which accounted for 30 per cent of global GDP and 28 per cent of the world’s total trade, were huge markets.
“Many Vietnamese businesses are still concerned about this agreement because many partners have products similar to Việt Nam that are more competitive,” Trang said.
“These markets also have big differences in quality requirements,” she added.
According to Trang, some enterprise said the RCEP agreement may not help increase exports due to reasons such as tax incentives, zero-tariff barriers and more fierce competition with RCEP partners.
During the negotiation process, enterprises should focus on areas of strength, products with high export volume and tax incentives, Trang said.
Phạm Tuấn Anh, an official from the Ministry of Finance who is also a member of the negotiation team, said expectations for the RCEP were huge, including import and export opportunities thanks to incentives on tariffs and regulations of origin, unified customs procedures and trade facilitation, and general rules to limit and control non-tariff barriers.
Anh said some service markets would be more open, especially logistics and telecommunications services, and a better e-commerce platform. Enterprises were looking forward to the RCEP to avoid the trend of trade protectionism and the impacts of the US-China trade war.
“This agreement is the final stages of negotiations, and we are conducting the last round of consultations with businesses,” Anh said.
The negotiations for the fifth round of the RCEP are being held in Bangkok with the participation of senior officials from 16 member countries to address current issues. Member countries are aiming to finalise the agreement at the end of this year. — VNS