Until early this year, the US was still regarded as one of Vietnam’s major export markets which accounted for 19-20 percent of the country’s total export turnover.
However, US legal formalities and technical barriers continued to be of great concern to Vietnamese businesses.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reported that among Vietnam’s items with a high proportion of export value were garments and textiles (50 percent), wood products (36 percent), footwear (30 percent), cashew nut (29 percent) and seafood (20 percent).
In the first two months of this year, Vietnam’s export earnings from the US reached more than US$2.58 billion, up 25.13 percent over the same period last year. The processing industry took the lead in terms of export value followed by the agro-forestry-fishery, minerals and energy sectors.
The processing industry earned nearly US$1.1 billion or 41.7 percent of the country’s total export value while garments and textiles posted a high export growth of 15.7. Some Vietnamese exports to the US increased dramatically such as machinery, equipment and spare parts (104.73 percent), steel products (195.91 percent), and vehicles (100.62 percent).
Economic experts say despite such two-way trade growth between Vietnam and the US, Vietnam is always in export surplus to the US. Therefore, boosting exports to this potential market is part of Vietnam’s sustainable export development strategy.
Many domestic businesses have long set up relations with US importers but they don’t have opportunities to have access to their distribution networks. The fact is that Vietnamese products can enter the US market either through US importers or through wholesalers, retailers and producers.
According to the US Department of Commerce, Vietnamese shrimp sold to US consumers is US$10 per kilo after changing hands from the go-between to agents. Garment and textile items also increase by 30-40 percent in price.
It is estimated that if Vietnam continues to maintain its exports to the US market via an intermediary from 2011-2015, Vietnam will lose approximately US$81.9 billion. So, it is imperative to devise an appropriate strategy that supports Vietnamese businesses in penetrating and securing a foothold in the US market.
Vietnamese importers should have marketing methods based on the four pillars: product-price-location-promotion to gain access to the US distribution channels.
The biggest problem facing them is how to continue with China which has become the largest exporter to the US.
By comparison with Vietnam’s key export items such as garments and textiles, wood products, electronic products and toys, China always gets the lion share. In addition, there are also legal and trade barriers as the US legal system is rather complex.
In recent years, Vietnamese businesses have found themselves in a difficult position to export to the US market due to strict US standards on business capacity and the environment; anti-subsidy measures; anti-dumping lawsuits and technical barriers for food hygiene and safety. On the other hand, Vietnamese businesses have yet to enjoy the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from the US.
To maintain export growth to the US market, the MoIT has insisted that domestic businesses build up good contacts with the US craft associations and business partners in order to enlist their support when disputes arise. In the context of the global economic downturn, Vietnamese businesses should work out specific solutions to expand foreign markets and boost exports while grasping legal formalities and technical barriers to meet requirements of the demanding markets and cope with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy lawsuits. And using e-commerce is the key to removing trade barriers when dealing with US businesses.