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|With one of the region’s fastest-growing middle classes and a young population, Vietnam represents an important market for foreign goods|
Vietnam’s upbeat growth projections have made it an attractive import-export destination. Thanks to a number of free trade agreements it has sealed in recent years, Vietnam’s trade partnerships have grown from strength to strength.
In 2021, the sum total of all trade between Australia and Vietnam in the important agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sectors surged by 64 per cent to AUD4.4 billion ($3 billion), according to the Australian government's data.
To help Australian producers take advantage of this growing interest for ‘Made in Australia’ goods, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) utilises its knowledge of the local market and strong tie-ins to find the right market for Australian exporters.
Austrade generates market information and insights, promotes Australian capability, and facilitates connections through its extensive global network for import and investment support.
Australia is a leader in best-practice quality control and management at every step of the supply chain, including production, industry bodies, consulting companies, and research institutions.
Innovation and technology are widely used to improve operational efficiency, enhance health and welfare, and optimise production and quality. That being said, importing Australian products means good business for Vietnam.
Rebecca Ball, senior trade commissioner at Austrade Vietnam pointed out that proximity to Australia is a big factor for the trading partnerships between both countries to work seamlessly.
Separated by seas and the Pacific ocean, these two nations enjoy a consistent flow of trade by water and air. This geographical proximity means goods are delivered swiftly, maintaining the freshness of raw products and the quality of preserved goods.
|Rebecca Ball, senior trade commissioner at Austrade Vietnam|
Bringing live seafood products into Vietnam is a good case in point, according to Rebecca. Understanding that suppliers are moving a very highly sensitive and perishable product from one environment to another, every step of the process needs to be strictly monitored to be able to maintain the quality on arrival.
“We’ve seen the industry learn in a very short amount of time what is required in the cold chain here in Vietnam to ensure the mortality of the live creatures, the temperature, and the extra nutrients in the water when the product is moved.”
This is complemented by trust and end-to-end transparency on both sides. Australia and Vietnam have different government bodies working with industries to oversee safety programmes that extend through each step of the supply chain for quality assurance, safety, and traceability.
Tony Harman, agricultural counselor for the Embassy of Australia in Vietnam, noted that the biosecurity in Australia for food safety is also of the highest standards so the Vietnamese have the highest confidence that when the product arrives, it will be in the safest and best possible condition.
Tony further explained that the long pathway products navigate — from production to handling and product transfer — needs to be optimised to guarantee quality. As experienced by Australian exporters, knowing what works and what doesn’t takes a trial and error phase and enduring commitment to Australia’s reputation.
“Take table grapes for example. They’re harvested in Australia and we make sure that they are enjoyed by Vietnamese consumers within 72 hours,” said Tony. “We harvest, treat, pack, and securely transfer them to Vietnam and eventually distribute them to the markets within this specific amount of time. That increases the product’s shelf life and enhances its quality.”
The 72-hour window also applies to most fresh products and live seafood imported from Australia to Vietnam. “Because of the proximity and reopened air freights that 72-hour window isn’t so much of a challenge anymore.”
|Abalone wide-caught. Photo by: Kane Williams – Western Abalone|
Rebecca and Tony both highlighted the free trade agreements entered by Australia and Vietnam as major trade enablers. The two countries signed trade liberalisation pacts, including the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
These agreements have significantly reduced or eliminated barriers to trade in goods and investment, and enhanced wealth prosperity in both Australian and Vietnamese business landscapes.
As both Australia and Vietnam continue to take solid actions to make their trade partnerships expand year after year, a brighter future awaits the import and export sector.
There are challenges and issues that need to be monitored and supported to help exporters and importers navigate one another’s systems, reflected Rebecca.
“There are complexities on both sides and much interpretation is required.” But she said that with the countries adhering to the same standard of quality, there’s trust and confidence for Australian producers and suppliers to gain more access to markets with significant potential.