Vietnam intensifies regional linkages to boost green exports

Strengthening regional linkages and harnessing the strengths of each province and city is crucial to promoting sustainable and green exports, according to experts at a recent forum on the subject held in Ho Chi Minh City.

The forum brought together experts from various sectors to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing Vietnam's economy, given the global economic uncertainty and growing demand for sustainable products.

Speaking at the forum, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said Vietnam's economy faced many challenges in the first quarter of 2023, with many industries dealing with a drop in demand and some markets grinding to a halt. These difficulties have led to job cuts in many enterprises, making the situation even more challenging.

The situation is further complicated by stricter requirements for sustainable products from major markets such as the US, the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and China, which poses significant challenges for Vietnamese businesses.

While there has been rapid growth in Vietnam's agriculture, forestry, and seafood exports in recent years, there is still strong competition from countries such as China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India.

He said that to remain competitive, firms need to meet not only the demand for quality products but also more stringent sourcing, environmental, and social standards.

The high cost of logistics - 20 to 25 percent of the total cost of exporting in Vietnam - compared with 10 to 15 percent in other countries in the region and a lack of infrastructure in some key areas, like the Mekong Delta, are other obstacles to sustainable exporting, Hai added.

Vo Van Hoan, Vice Chairman of the HCMC People's Committee, noted that Vietnam's largest city is the center of the key economic region in the south, the area with the highest growth rate in the southeast, and a leader in international economic integration, and has the highest export turnover in the country.

However, he added that consumer demand has declined since the beginning of 2023, which will negatively affect the export activities of the city and the country as a whole due to the strong impact of global geopolitical conflicts and inflation.

Moreover, the disadvantage of the city is the lack of effective linkages within the southeastern region to optimize its export potential and achieve sustainable development, he noted.

Nguyen Mai, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, said that in the current competitive environment, the development of regional linkages is essential for economic growth and export promotion.

The key is to cooperate in investment, trade, tourism, and service development to tap each region's potential, connect with other economic centers, and enhance the country's national competitiveness in regional competition, he said.

Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, Director of the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy, pointed out that sustainable development and green growth are well-developed global trends, and enterprises must adopt sustainable production methods to keep up.

He urged businesses to optimize supply chains and prioritize the development of green supply chains while meeting global demand trends. The State needs to reform policies, fulfill commitments in free trade agreements (FTAs), and provide training and communications to ensure that green supply chains have a sound legal framework to develop.

The Vice Chairman of the HCMC People's Committee said that the world is changing under the pressure of dwindling natural resources, pollution, and climate change, and consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and shifting towards sustainable and eco-friendly products.

Therefore, sustainable development and green growth are essential for Vietnam's exports to remain competitive in the global market, he stressed.

Hoan added that HCMC has been proactive in developing plans, solutions, and action programs to promote regional linkages in trade and services. Based on its strengths in production, trade, and services, the city has also proposed strategies for the economic development of each locality to serve both domestic and export markets.

In the long run, in line with the direction of sustainable development and to meet international requirements for a circular economy, he said the regional linkage strategy between HCMC and other provinces and cities will aim at green exports.