Trade ministry to publish FTA Index, facilitate utilisation of free trade deals

Monday, Nov 20, 2023 08:31

A seminar being held in Hà Nội on October 31 to discuss how to enhance implementation of free trade agreements. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is helping provinces improve their capability in this regard. — VNA/VNS Photo

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is focusing on improving provinces’ capabilities in helping local businesses take advantage of free trade agreements such as the UKVFTA and EVFTA, including by issuing an FTA Index by the end of 2023.

Việt Nam’s participation in several new generation free trade agreements has opened up opportunities for it to expand its export markets, attract foreign investment and fostered its provinces and cities’ economic development and trade.

Its provinces and cities have been making efforts to link local exporters with foreign partners, and apprising them about and helping them make use of the trade deals through conferences, seminars, online resources, networking events, and other activities.

Last year, 11 more provinces exported to countries that have signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership than did in 2021.

Similarly, 44 provinces exported to the UK by making use of the UK – Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement in 2022, up 13 in number.

Eleven more provinces exported to markets that are part of the European Union – Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement.

According to experts, there is still a lot of opportunity for Việt Nam to utilise these markets since, while exports have risen, they have not reached their potential, and the number of exporters remains low.

Several provinces have recorded very low exports to these markets.

This is because many provinces are still not paying sufficient attention to the FTAs, thus not enabling their full utilisation by businesses.

Many activities to support utilisation of FTAs by businesses are carried out broadly without focusing on specific industries or the provinces’ strengths.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, while there have been many conferences and seminars to raise awareness of FTAs, their depth of information does not satisfy businesses’ demands.

There are also not enough Government workers to do justice to these activities, it admitted.

At a seminar held to discuss ways to increase the effectiveness of local level FTA implementation held in Hà Nội at the end of October, Nguyễn Anh Dương, head of the Department for General Economic Issues and Integration Studies at the Central Institute for Economic Management, said while many provinces have reached out to relevant authorities and experts to better help businesses make use of FTAs, many exporters are still focusing on immediate problems and see FTAs as something out of their reach.

Đỗ Thị Thúy Hương, member of the executive board of the Việt Nam Electronic Industries Association, said provinces in the South with a high concentration of industrial parks have a better approach to guiding businesses on new generation FTAs compared to regions with fewer industrial parks and remote places with few foreign companies.

An FTA Index that assesses provinces’ implementation of FTAs is slated to be published by the end of this year. — VNA/VNS Photo

​FTA Index

The ministry is working on the FTA Index with relevant authorities and localities, which will be published by the end of the year to assess cities and provinces’ implementation of free trade agreements.

This will provide more information for investors to make future investment decisions, and for the National Assembly to monitor FTA implementation and provide instructions.

Ngô Chung Khanh, deputy head of the ministry’s multilateral trade policy department, said: “Like the Provincial Competitiveness Index, the FTA Index will get provinces to care more about how to best use of various FTAs.”

Dương of the Central Institute for Economic Management said once the FTA Index is published periodically, it would drive provinces to do better with their FTA activities, which would benefit businesses and the national economy.

He told Công Thương newspaper that the ministry should work with experts and localities to create a shared understanding of the index figures, so that relevant agencies and localities will better carry out their tasks.

The ministry is also working on a comprehensive dissemination plan together with other ministries, various other agencies and provinces and cities to provide in-depth information on issues that businesses are interested in, and foster better co-ordination between authorities to avoid overlapping.

It is also developing training courses to produce experts in FTAs, and working with universities to create training programmes.

In the first ten months of the year, Việt Nam’s exports were worth US$291.28 billion, a 7.1 per cent drop year-on-year.

The last two months of the year are expected to see a sharper recovery in exports thanks to positive global economic signs. — VNS

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