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|Le Dang Doanh meets entrepreneurs from Business Association of High-Quality Vietnamese Products|
At a seminar about the effects of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and COVID-19 on the Vietnamese economy, Le Dang Doanh, former director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said that the outbreak presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses.
According to statistics from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, in February 2020, the country's export and import turnovers accounted for 21.1 and 40.1 per cent of the total trade turnover, respectively. China accounts for the largest portion of the turnover.
Doanh said that domestic businesses should change course and restructure their operations. Finding the silver lining, several businesses have rolled out campaigns to help farmers hit by COVID-19 by buying up their dragon fruit, durian, and watermelon harvest to produce bread, rice paper, pizza, or noodles. Some of these products could even become new Vietnamese specialities.
In addition, Doanh urged export companies to discover new markets for their products. “To avoid reliance on the Chinese market, I think this is the right time for us to think long and hard about changing course,” he said.
For example, he suggested Mongolia as a potential market for raw leather exports. Besides, he urged companies to adopt new technology to catch up with their international peers.
The banking sector is also lending a hand to businesses to mitigate the impacts of the virus. In the context of the outbreak, both the state and private banks offer preferential interest rates for enterprises affected by COVID-19.
Some banks like SHB, MBBank, and BacABank have recently signed a framework contract on indirect lending with the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Development Fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises to diversify capital channels.
In the face of adversities, companies should join hands to obtain mutual benefits, Doanh urged. Associations need to work together to share experience and conduct surveys to identify the most fitting solutions for each problem in a timely manner.