On this important occasion, Mr. Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, Director of International Cooperation Department (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) had a conversation with Vietnam Agriculture News about opportunities to promote agricultural cooperation between Vietnam and the USA.
ow do you assess the potential for promoting agricultural cooperation between Vietnam and the USA when the USA is Vietnam's largest export market after the first four months of 2022 with a value of nearly USD 4.9 billion?
The USA has become Vietnam’s largest partner in agricultural, forestry and fishery (AFF) trade since 2020. The good news is that in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recession, and supply chain disruptions, both AFF exports and imports have increased at double-digit rates recently. This proves the complementarity effect instead of direct competition between the AFF products of both parties.
"Our policy is to build a partnership of trust and mutual benefit in agricultural cooperation with the USA." Mr. Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, Director of the Department of International Cooperation (MARD).
Apart from wood and wooden products which are the current strong point, what products can Vietnam develop to export to the US market in the near future?
Vietnam’s processed wooden products suit the US customer preference very well. Vietnam's wood industry has undergone a fundamental transformation to meet the US market’s liking in terms of specifications, quality, and competitive prices. Apart from processed wooden furniture, over the past time we have also witnessed a rise of a series of Vietnamese products that possess strong advantages with high export rates or growth rates such as seafood, coffee, cashew, pepper, vegetables, tea, pepper, and rice.
On the other hand, Vietnam has also increased imports of strong US products in recent times, especially raw materials for animal feed. This both shows the complementarity effect of AFF products between the two countries and the goodwill to strengthen the balance of AFF trade in a sustainable way.
In the most recent meeting with Minister Le Minh Hoan, the US Ambassador to Vietnam said that the time is close for our pomelos to be exported to the partner market. How do you evaluate the potential of this commodity?
In 2021 we exported over USD 200 million of fruit and vegetable products to the US market, which is an increase of 32% compared to 2020. Outstanding an achievement as it may be, this figure is still very small when compared to the USD 4 billion of fruit and vegetable exported from Vietnam and the fiscal space of the US market.
The USA has recently adjusted the anti-dumping tax on Vietnam's honey products from nearly 400% to approximately 60%, so what do you think the authorities of the two countries should do to avoid similar cases in the future?
The United States is a fairly transparent and standardized market, but it is also very sensitive to the protection claims of farmers, businesses and consumers.
In order to continue to be a reliable partner in trade, I think both sides need to fully grasp the objective information, and scientific evidence and take into account the specific circumstances of each party. The USA side needs to pay attention to the social and environmental impacts when imposing an anti-dumping tax on agricultural products in countries like Vietnam - where a large percentage of the population depends on agriculture for livelihood.
The US Ambassador to Vietnam expressed support for Vietnam's agriculture industry aiming toward green, clean and sustainable development. In your opinion, what support and cooperation can the US side offer to Vietnam so that we can achieve this goal?
The two countries’ agriculture sectors have agreed to establish a Working Group to carry out activities to promote sustainable development, reduce emissions, and protect the environment, natural resources and biodiversity. US partners highly appreciate Vietnam's policies and commitments and are currently building specific support schemes.
The USA has strong points in some areas that Vietnam needs to promote cooperation:
- Aid in science, technology, and management capacity accompanied with models to help Vietnam in the process of transitioning to green and low-emission agriculture.
- Connections with sustainable development certifications, funding sources for sustainable agricultural practices and carbon credit markets.
- Improvement in maritime law enforcement capacity, develop a mechanism to share relevant information and support the implementation of anti-IUU fishing activities. Assistance in legal timber control and sustainable forest governance.
- Close involvement with the private sector to promote green and sustainable agricultural development initiatives to build a Southeast Asia Food Innovation Hub in Vietnam.