SMEs will be counseled on how to benefit the most from the newly-signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a priority target under the EVFTA, said Vu Tien Loc, president of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
He was speaking at a conference titled "The EVFTA: What happens next", which was organized by VCCI and the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham). The conference gathered enterprises from textile, coffee, communication, pharmacy and other industries to discuss EVFTA regulations and ways to benefit from tax and investment incentives.
Loc said EVFTA carried the highest-level of freedom and fairness in which EU and Vietnam businesses shared the vision of sustainable development.
However, in discussions, experts pointed out limitations like the lack of information access among Vietnamese SMEs. Many enterprises in key manufacturing sectors did not know when the tax rate of products exported to the EU will return to zero percent or what that rate is for upcoming years, they said.
"After the signing of EVFTA, Vietnamese enterprises, especially SMEs, need to be fully-equipped to benefit from tax and investment incentives, which would enhance their competitiveness in the domestic market and enable exports to the EU," Loc said.
He said that the VCCI, in association with EuroCham, will carry out counseling and support programs for Vietnamese enterprises, including training courses and establishment of business associations with emphasis on governance capacity.
Activities and seminars regarding EVFTA will be organized, aiming at introducing opportunities and guidelines for Vietnamese businesses, especially in the most affected areas, he said.
"Enterprises themselves need to improve the quality of human resources and corporate governance. The most important thing is that enterprises must study the agreement, then restructure products, technology, partners and markets."
Nicolas Audier, EuroCham chairman, said Vietnamese businesses need to learn European standards and find ways to apply these, and look for EU partners to easily access markets.
EuroCham suggested that guidelines are provided for companies to come and invest in Vietnam. It also suggested that specific industry committees are formed, for paper, medicine, automotive, food, etc., so the most appropriate support can be provided.
VCCI and EuroCham will jointly establish the EU-Vietnam Business Council, and hold an annual event called the "Vietnam-EU Economic Summit" to promote economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two sides.
The EVFTA was signed in Hanoi on June 30 after nine years of negotiations.
The EU will eliminate 99.7 percent of tariff lines for Vietnam's exports in seven years after the deal comes into force. Up to 70.3 percent of Vietnamese products exported to the EU will be free of tariffs immediately, said Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh. Only 42 percent now enjoys zero tariffs.
In response, Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on 64.5 percent of imports from the EU, rising to 97.1 percent in seven years.