The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, will lead a high level trade mission to South East Asia, to explore market opportunities in the region.
Vietnam will be the first stop on Hogan’s itinerary, where he will visit Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, on November 2-4, 2016. This visit comes at an opportune time when the European Union and Vietnam concluded the negotiations for the bilateral Free Trade Agreement and expect to sign soon. Apart from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, other stops as part of this regional tour will include Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Accompanying Commissioner Hogan will be a 41-member strong business delegation of European food and beverage (F&B) companies who are seeking business opportunities in the local market. The visit aims to promote the strengths of European F&B products as being safe, high in quality and nutritious.
The accompanying business delegations are from different EU countries, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the UK. They will be promoting a wide variety of agricultural and F&B products from fruits and vegetables to fresh meat, poultry, processed foods, from milk and dairy products to wine & spirits.
During the visit, in Hanoi, Commissioner Hogan and the business delegations will attend a seminar on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) where topics on food safety, investment, distribution, licensing of F&B products and wider business opportunities will be discussed.
A working lunch will serve as a networking platform for the high level delegates, ambassadors, trade officials from EU Member States’ embassies in Vietnam, and local buyers and importers. The lunch will feature a number of high quality European F&B products on the menu. The delegation will also visit local and international retail outlets to gain first-hand insights on the local market place.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Commissioner Hogan and the delegates will attend a seminar focusing on quality food concepts such as Geographical Indications and business opportunities in Vietnam. A business forum will equip the delegation with better understanding of market access, local rules and regulations, as well as Vietnamese consumers’ trends and appetite for quality food products. Complementing these events will be B2B meetings where EU producers and Vietnamese importers, distributors and retailers will discuss business deals.
The high level trade mission demonstrates the strong interests of the European business community in Vietnam’s F&B businesses. With this visit, it is hoped that the EU companies will be able to explore new business opportunities in Vietnam market and in return, local consumers in Vietnam will soon have the opportunities to experience a greater range of quality, tasty and safe European F&B products.
Vietnam has experienced a radical economic and social transformation over the past two decades alongside integration into the global economy. As a rapidly developing and fast growing ASEAN economy, Vietnam holds substantial potential for EU businesses.
In 2015, EU-Vietnam trade in goods was worth over €38.4 billion ($42 billion), with €29.9 billion ($32.6 billion) in imports from Vietnam into the EU, €8.4 billion ($9.17 billion) in exports from the EU to Vietnam. In 2015, Vietnam ranked 21st among EU’s trading partners. Conversely, the EU was Vietnam’s second largest trading partner of Vietnam after China. The EU was also the second largest overseas market for Vietnamese products after the US. Vietnam has become the EU’s second largest trade partner in ASEAN after Singapore and ahead of Malaysia.
Vietnam’s key export items to the EU include telephone sets, electronic products, footwear, textiles and clothing, coffee, rice, seafood, and furniture. EU exports to Vietnam are dominated by high tech products including electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles, and pharmaceutical products.
At present, Vietnam continues to enjoy trade preferences with the EU under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences – but this will be replaced by the EVFTA once it enters into force.
The EU is one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam. In 2015, EU investors committed a total of $1.54 billion in Foreign Direct Investment and thus became Vietnam’s third largest foreign investor partner.
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By Hong Anh