As Vietnam joins more international trade agreements, dealing with and overcoming trade defence measures has become a top priority for Vietnamese businesses, especially for those working with markets known for their numerous and robust defence instruments such as the US and the EU.
|Workers operate machines at a steel mill in HCM City
Vietnamese shrimp exporters received good news as the US Department of Commerce (DOC) announced their conclusion regarding anti-dumping tariffs on products from Vietnam with some 31 exporters exempt from the tariff, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Shrimp exports from Vietnam to the US reached 334 million USD in July, a 13.4 per cent increase from the same period last year. The DOC’s decision has resulted in a boost of morale for Vietnamese exporters as well as investors’ confidence. It showed a well-coordinated effort among VASEP and exporters to meet all the DOC’s requirements on transparency and credibility.
Looking elsewhere, however, there have been signs of trouble as measures are being tightened in major markets for Vietnamese products such as steel and fish.
For example, since the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) took effect in December last year, steel exports to Canada, a member of the trade pact, climbed to 78 million USD during the first six months of the year, almost three times the total value for the whole of 2018.
While the Vietnam Steel Association attributed the increase in exports to the CPTPP, which effectively reduces tariffs on Vietnamese products to zero, and claimed Vietnamese steel exporters do not participate in tax evasion and dumping practices, Canada has started a process to make changes to trade defence measures.
Notably, Canada and the US have reached an agreement in which Canada is committed to preventing the import of unfairly subsidised or dumped steel, as well as transhipment – foreign steel that moves through either country to the other.
Against the backdrop of stricter defence measures, the Trade Remedies Authority of Vietnam under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) advised Vietnamese exporters to review and revise their production and export output to avoid potential anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations.
It also issued a warning to Vietnamese steel exporters to steer clear of and not support violations of product origin rules and trade fraud to avoid hurting the country’s trade and potential lawsuits.
A source from the MoIT said the ministry is handling seven trade defence-related cases since the beginning of the year with another seven from last year.
Pham Thanh Nga from the Vietnam Society of International Law said for the next three years after the CPTPP takes effect, Vietnamese businesses and products are to face increasingly rigorous trade defence measures.
“Countries may impose numerous defence instruments based on suggestions from their domestic producers,” Nga said.
Commenting on the topic, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said businesses must take the initiative to conduct a comprehensive study of trade defence and safeguard measures, intellectual property right protection and technical barriers for their markets.