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Thai garment, footwear producers eye bigger shares in Vietnam

Thursday, August 27, 2015, 11:58 GMT+7

About 40 Thai companies operating in the garment-textile, shoe-leather and accessories sectors on Thursday met with potential Vietnamese partners in Ho Chi Minh City during a trade promotion activity aiming to increase the market share of Thai goods in Vietnam.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

The Thai enterprises which joined the event, the Vietnam-Thailand Business Meeting and Matching, include manufacturers of fabrics, men’s and women’s clothes, textile materials, suitcases, bags andhandbags which want to find suitable local distributers or trade partners.

The event, co-organized by the Ho Chi Minh City branch of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade of Thailand and the Thai Consulate General in the city, will also help Thai businesses to find suitable investment opportunities in Vietnam.

Malinee Harnboonsong, Commercial Councilor and Director of the Trade Center under the Thai Consulate General in the city, said the program is part of Thailand’s preparation for business opportunities when the ASEAN Business Community  (AEC) is formed at the end of this year.

ASEAN is a ten-member bloc which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Thai garment and textile firms are adjusting their business strategy, and Vietnam was chosen to compensate for the limitations that Thai businesses face, as not many of them can export to the U.S. and EU, said Harnboonsong in a speech.

Vietnam and the EU on August 4 reached agreement in principle on a free trade pact after many rounds of negotiations from June 2012 to August 2015, with a view to ensuring an effective environment for trade and investment relations.

The in-principle trade deal includes the elimination of nearly all tariffs, at over 99 percent, for the two sides, in which Vietnam will liberalize tariffs over a 10-year period, and the EU will do so over a seven-year period.

Vietnam is also expected to join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, a proposed regional free trade pact aimed at eliminating tariffs and lowering non-tariff barriers that is being negotiated by 12 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, which collectively contribute almost half of global output and over 40 percent of world trade.

Vietnam earlier this month finished bilateral negotiations with two top economies, the U.S. and Japan, on the TPP trade agreement, during an official ministerial meeting for the TPP led by Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang in Hawaii, according to the Vietnamese Multilateral Trade Policy Department.

Minister Hoang joined his counterparts from eleven other countries in negotiating the TPP in the meeting to address remaining issues before concluding the TPP talks from June 28 to July 31.

Thailand is one of the leading countries in developing a textile industry, especially in weaving and design, Harnboonsong said.

In particular, Thailand has set a roadmap to become the fashion center of Asia in the next 20 years, she said.

Meanwhile, large Thai corporations are planning to boost investment in Vietnam in the next five years in order to establish production centers to export their products to other countries with which Vietnam will benefit from the coming trade deals given its abundant and low-cost workforce , she added.

Many Thai firms said they have seen Vietnam’s potential in trade and investment and expect to cooperate with local partners to help spur the Southeast Asian country’s garment-textile and footwear sectors, she told the Vietnam News Agency.

During their trip, the Thai businesses will visit several garment-textile and footwear plants in southern localities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces, she added.

Nguyen The Hung, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s HCMC branch, said Thai products are popular in Vietnam, and more Vietnamese goods are now present in the Thai market.

As a result, the two countries’ businesses should bolster cooperation and fully tap their potential and advantages, especially in the garment-textile and footwear sectors, as Vietnam, Thailand and other ASEAN countries are redoubling their efforts in preparation for the formation of the AEC, with its dual opportunities and challenges.

Trade turnover between Vietnam and Thailand reached $10.6 billion last year, increasing 12.5 percent over 2013. In the first half of this year, the figure reached $5.2 billion, up 8 percent year on year.

The two countries have set a target to raise bilateral trade revenue to $20 billion by 2020.

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Thoai Tran/Tuoi Tre News

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