Two months since the effectiveness of the EVFTA, Vietnam has seen positive signals in its trade exchange with the EU despite the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The operation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) since early August 2020 has created huge opportunities for Vietnamese exports, helping diversify markets and export more goods, particularly Vietnam’s major export products such as agricultural products, seafood, wood products, garments and textiles, footwear and electronics.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), Vietnam has taken advantage of tariff preferences in its FTAs, including the EVFTA, in order to expand the country’s export markets.
Nearly 15,000 sets of certificates of origin (C/O) of the EUR.1 form were granted to Vietnamese products, worth a total of US$700 million, allowing them to export to 28 EU countries, two months since the coming into effect of the EVFTA.
The items granted C/Os of the EUR.1 form are mainly in relation to footwear, seafood, plastic products, coffee, textiles, bags, suitcases, vegetables, rattan and bamboo products, agricultural products and electronic products, amongst others.
Seafood is one of Vietnam’s main exports to the EU. (Photo: VNA)
Most import markets are countries with seaports and transshipment centres in the EU including Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, and the UK. In particular, many shipments have arrived in the EU market, been cleared and are enjoying preferential treatment.
Phan Van Chinh, Director of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that the total import and export revenue of Vietnamese goods reached US$50.4 billion in August, including US$27.7 billion worth of export revenue, up 11.4%.
Meanwhile, total import and export revenue in the January-August period was posted at US$336.92 billion, including US$175.36 billion worth of export revenue, up 2.3% over the same period last year.
The ceremony to launch the exportation of Ben Tre’s coconuts, pomelos and dragon fruits to the EU under the EVFTA (Photo: Tien Phong)
Vietnam also reported a trade surplus of US$13.5 billion in eight months, nearly 2.5 times higher the same period in 2019.
Notably, export revenue in August reached its highest monthly level in 2020.
In August alone, Vietnam’s export revenue to the EU market reached US$3.25 billion, up 4.65% compared to July and an increase of 4.2% over the same period last year. Vietnam’s export revenue to the EU market continued to soar in September with an increase of 14.4% over the corresponding period in 2019.
Many Vietnamese export products have witnessed positive changes in the EU market in the two-month implementation period of the EVFTA. Specifically, Vietnam’s export of seafood products in August and September increased by 10% compared to July while export revenue to the EU market increased by 1.7% over the same period in 2019.
In particular, the shrimp export in August expanded by 15.7% over the same period last year, also the highest growth since earlier this year.
Besides seafood, Vietnamese rice exported to the EU also showed positive signs as prices of rice exports to the EU market increased by US$80-200 per tonne compared to before the coming into effect of the EVFTA. For the first time, export prices of Vietnamese rice hit a record high of over US$1,000 per tonne.
The first batch of 100 tonnes of Vietnam-grown passion fruit was also shipped to Europe on September 16 under the EVFTA by the Dong Giao Foodstuff Export Joint Stock Company.
Ben Tre province also announced the export of its first batch of fruit to the EU under the EVFTA on September 17. Accordingly, the Vina T&T Group exported one container of 20,000 fresh coconuts by sea and three tonnes of dragon fruit by air to the EU market.
Vietnamese agricultural products exported to the EU market in August grew by 15-17% compared to July.
According to Tran Dinh Luan, Director General of the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the EVFTA has created opportunities for Vietnamese goods to trade at lower prices when exporting to the EU market, helping improve competitiveness over goods without the benefits of an FTA with the EU.
The ceremony to ship the first batch of Vietnam-grown passion fruit to EU under the EVFTA (Photo: Nhan Dan)
Vietnam has advantages in production and export of agricultural, forestry and aquatic products while the EU has great demand for these items with import value accounting for 8.4% of the total annual import value. This promises to make further room for Vietnamese agricultural exports to the EU market.
In addition, many other products such as telephones and components, machinery, equipment and spare parts, textiles, footwear, seafood, furniture, and coffee are also expected to increase their export turnover to this market in the future.
These initial results are said to be positive in the context that there remain difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the agreement is still very new to most enterprises.
According to the MOIT, the EVFTA is expected to increase Vietnam’s export revenue to the EU by 40% in 2025, opening up huge opportunities for Vietnamese exports.
Great opportunities ahead
Wood processors are hoping for more orders from European countries in the remainder of 2020. (Photo: VNA)
Many of Vietnam’s key export products are expected to benefit by the end of this year thanks to the EVFTA. Regarding shrimp products, Tran Dinh Luan said that shrimp is one of the key export products of Vietnam to the EU. Right after the EVFTA took effect, the export tax on some Vietnamese shrimp products to the EU was cut to 0% including on frozen tiger shrimp.
Shrimp exports to the EU in August 2020 increased by about 20% compared to August 2019. It is forecast that Vietnam’s shrimp exports to the EU will continue to increase by year’s end although the growth rate is not quite as high due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the tax advantage of Vietnamese shrimp, EU importers are also seeking more supply from Vietnam.
Regarding leather and footwear, the EVFTA is considered to be the biggest driver for the industry’s growth, in the context that the industry will continue to face difficulties due to its heavy dependence on America and Europe’s ability to control the pandemic.
To be able to take advantage of the EVFTA in order to increase exports, many enterprises in the footwear industry have made plans on the restructuring of their apparatus, factory infrastructure and raw materials to meet the commitments of the agreement while improving product quality.
Phan Thi Thanh Xuan, General Secretary of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association, said that the EU is the traditional market of the Vietnamese leather and footwear industry, accounting for nearly 30% of Vietnam’s leather and footwear export turnover, equivalent to nearly US$6 billion each year.
“We expect that the coming into effect of the EVFTA will further promote the export of Vietnamese footwear to this market, helping offset the loss of exports during the first months of the year,” Xuan said.
Similarly, enterprises from the wood processing and production industry also hope for better control of the pandemic at established markets and expect more export orders from EVFTA member countries in the remaining months of this year.
Despite the initially positive signals, it must be stated that the EU is not an easy market, and businesses must have a serious and methodical investment plan if they wish to conquer this market.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong noted that Vietnamese businesses should not consider the EVFTA a “lifesaver”, but consider incentives from the agreement as a support factor. The most important issue is the internal strength and the constant effort of enterprises.
Accordingly, businesses need to change their mindset and global approach and proactively improve their internal production capacity and ability to participate in international trade in order to take advantage of the EVFTA and stand firm in the international marketplace.
The MOIT emphasised that from now until the end of the year, the ministry will continue to disseminate information on the trade in goods, trade in services, investment, import tax elimination, and other commitments under the EVFTA to improve the understanding of people and businesses about the agreement, thereby increasing the benefits gained from the agreement. Nhan Dan
Poet to begin new journey
Nguyễn Phong Việt is a prolific poet. Over the last decade, he has released a poetry collection at the end of each year.
Thể Thao Văn Hóa (Culture & Sports) newspaper reporter Hiền Hòa spoke with Việt about the literature scene and his career
Could you tell us about your new poetry collection?
This is the ninth collection I have written for my mature readers. I will publish the 10th at Christmas this year. It will be reasonable to stop a long journey. Releasing 10 collections at the same time for 10 years is an interesting journey for me.
I will stop not because the number of copies sold has reduced but I think that it is time to stop writing poems. Both my readers and I need to have a break. It is important for me.
However, I will not stop writing poems for mature readers. I just want to take a rest for two or three years for thinking. I want to have new stories to tell.
I believe that writing poetry is my fate in life. So no matter what I won’t give up. I continue my work with essays with currently releasing a book of essays. It is a shift in my writing.
When you return to writing poems for mature readers can you imagine what you will write?
I don’t know at all and have no idea. But I believe that my readers who have read my collections for the past 10 years are always there. We are like old friends meeting after a long time. It will be more emotional and joyous.
Do you want a best-selling poetry book or what do you seek in poetry?
Frankly, I don’t want to look for a best-selling title and it does not pressure me. The only thing that can make me feel pressure is [to ensure] that each of my poetry collections does not disappoint the readers.
I seek exposition through poetry. It is a therapy that helps me to calm down and move on in my life. Indeed, there are days when I am so tired of thinking that only writing makes me feel comfortable.
I’ve always thought poetry readers are introverted people. This inner part for me is necessary because that sensitivity helps me understand more about life and make my living journey more profound.
I do not think poetry has any big impact but simply it is a diary page where the reader can find a little empathy and understanding.
They listen to the voice of the soul and know that they are not alone. As a writer, it is the same for me.
What are you writing at present?
I published my first poetry collection for children in 2018. It entitled Xin Chào Những Buổi Sáng (Good Morning, Mornings) is a collection of 30 poems written in Vietnamese and English narrating the stories of ordinary life and family love as well as containing moral lessons for children.
This year I will release the second children’s poetry collection. I hope writing poems for children will be a new experiment for me.
Can you earn living from poetry writing?
It must be said that I cannot live by writing books. Simply, it is a hobby, a joy and sometimes it is a small mission telling daily stories and spreading them to readers.
Even if I want to earn a living by writing it would be impossible because the income from writing in Việt Nam is extremely small.
Do you think that one day, artificial intelligence (AI) will be able to compose a poem?
I believe that is the inevitable trend, AI will do it. But poetry is the personal experience of the writer. This difference and essence, AI cannot do it.
I still believe that AI cannot have the same depth as the soul of a poet. In this case, it is “Clothes does not make a man”. VNS
Muong people preserve mother tongue
The Muong people in Hoa Binh province have organized several programs to promote the Muong language as part of efforts by ethnic groups to preserve their culture and their mother tongue.
The rich culture of the Muong has spread from generation to generation mostly by word of mouth. Long ago, the Muong ancestors transcribed their spoken language using Chinese characters. Some of those ancient documents are still preserved in the Muong community.
In 1945 Vietnam adopted an official Vietnamese script. Muong people then began to transcribe their language into Vietnamese. A large number of poems and shaman’s prayers have been recorded and preserved by the Muong community.
Muong’s shamans are the guardians of Muong philosophy and education. In his life, a Muong person typically passes through 23 rituals conducted by shamans. The shaman prays for a newborn baby to eat heartily and grow up strong. When a child is ill, the shaman asks the Mother Goddesses to cure him. He conducts a ceremony to help adults chase away bad luck and evil spirits. Shamans are indispensable at weddings, housewarmings, and worshiping ceremonies. Shamans pray for old people to enjoy wisdom, good health, and longevity. When someone dies, the shaman acts as a guide to lead the deceased to the other world.
Dinh Cong Tien, a Muong shaman in Tan Lac district, Hoa Binh province, said “I learned to be a shaman when I was head of acooperative. I wrote down all the worship prayers I learned orally from old people. I listened to them, memorized them, and transcribed them. Worship prayers are a cultural treasure of the Muong.”
The Muong language and culture are being kept alive by Muong shamans. A Muong Culture Club was established in 2017 in Ngoi hamlet, Tan Lac district. A second Culture Club opened at Dinh hamlet, ManDuc township, in 2019. There people learn to play gongs, sing folksongs, dance, and make traditional costumes.
Bui Thi Mien, who teaches Muong folksongs at Dinh hamlet’s Culture Club, said the club attracts people of all ages. Old people join the club to recall their memories. All club members share their knowledge of Muong folk songs and ideas for preserving the Muong culture.
Member Bui Van Yeu said “Muong folk songs are embedded in the minds of Muong people. They were created to commemorate important events. We sing them at weddings and funerals. I worry that one day modern culture will overwhelm our folk culture. I teach folksinging to anyone who wants to learn and preserve the Muong culture.”
The Muong account for 63% of the population of Hoa Binh province.
Coach Hải, a lifetime dedicated to football
HÀ NỘI — The 2020 Fair Play Awards will be announced tomorrow in HCM City to honour sportsmanship, honesty and fair play over the last year.
The organising board will give awards to five candidates and former coach Lê Thụy Hải will be given the Fair Play Glory award for his great contribution to Vietnamese football.
Hải is a figure of great standing in Vietnamese football, however, at the age of 75, Hải’s health has been greatly affected by pancreatic cancer for more than four years.
Hải can talk about football all day with his boundless emotion and insight. Football gives him a lot of things and he has been devoted to Vietnamese football throughout his career as a player and coach.
Born in 1946, Hải started his career with the football team of General Department of Railways and played with the team until he retired.
Famous for his skills and strong finishes, Hải didn’t win any North Championships because at that time Thể Công was too strong.
Recalling the past, Hải said his greatest honour was to be with his teammates like Mai Đức Chung, Hoàng Gia and Lê Khắc Chính to go south to compete with Saigon Port in 1976 after the reunification of the country.
“Thể Công were champions at that time and Railways only finished second, but Railways were called the champion team of the workers’ teams, so they were allowed to represent the Northern teams to go to Sài Gòn to play,” said Hải.
In this historic match, Hải left a strong impression when he had an assist to help striker Chung score the opening goal in the 28th minute before creating a strong shot near the middle of the field in the 54th minute to secure a 2-0 victory for the Railways.
“After the match ended, no one cared about the result. However, we were extremely happy as the Sài Gòn audience stood up and encouraged us warmly. It was an unforgettable memory of my career,” said Hải.
At the age of 60, Hải began coaching in the V.League 1 in 2004 when he led Hà Nội ACB after previously only coaching lower-level teams.
In just 12 years of coaching in the top tier, Hải led Bình Dương to win three V.League 1 titles in 2007, 2018 and 2014. Only coach Chu Đình Nghiêm has equalled this achievement with Hà Nội FC who triumphed in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Hải was likely the only coach in the V. League 1 without an AFC ‘A’ Coaching Certificate.
“There are those who have the conditions to go to school, they have many degrees, and while everyone was in school, I had to work to earn money,” said Hải.
Later, teams had to register him as technical director to follow the rules, despite the fact that he was still the head coach of the team.
Hải was often hired to coach teams when they were in a relegation battle and regularly staved off the dreaded drop with Bình Dương (in 2006 and 2013), Vissai Ninh Binh (in 2010) and Hải Phòng (in 2012).
The last time he worked was for Thanh Hóa in 2016.
Famous as a personable player, he kept up his loquacious manner as a coach with many statements related to Vietnamese football published by the press and creating many controversies.
Recently, during the Hà Nội Football Festival with the commemorative derby between Thể Công and Hà Nội Police, although Hải was very tired, he still attended the festival with his teammates.
After several decades working as a player and a coach, Hải has won hundreds of matches and now those who love him want him to win one more over fate and disease.
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