Initiative’s success helped by quick response to pandemic

December 22, 2020 | 17:56
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The Vietnam Value Programme aims at further cementing high-quality standards through choosing national brands to represent the country’s progress. VIR’s Hai Van spoke to Vu Ba Phu, director general of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, about how this year’s event contributes towards fostering local businesses’ prestige at home and abroad.

As 2020 is coming to end, how do you evaluate the development of businesses that received recognition during the Vietnam Value Programme?

1523 p13 initiatives success helped by quick response to pandemic
Vu Ba Phu, director general of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade

After 17 years of running the programme with seven times choosing national brands, we have witnessed the continuous growth of many domestic enterprises. At the first selection in 2008, we saw only 30 chosen companies with their products. By 2018, this number had grown to 97, and this year we have recorded 124 enterprises and their brands.

However, the growth of the business community has not only happened in the number of participating businesses, but also export turnover, sales, and their contribution to the state budget, as well as their efforts in social responsibility and job creation. For example, firms recognised as national brands in 2018 reached a revenue of about VND907 trillion ($39.4 billion), with their export turnover amounting to VND130 trillion ($5.6 billion), contributing VND85 trillion ($3.7 billion) to the state budget and creating 340,000 jobs. Meanwhile, in this year, these numbers have climbed to VND975 trillion ($42.4 billion) and VND123 trillion ($5.34 billion) in 2020, respectively, with contributions to the state budget amounting to VND197 trillion ($8.5 billion) and 350,000 new jobs created – all this despite the pandemic.

What are the main differences between the 2020 programme and previous years’ iterations?

This year has been a special one as most of the businesses were affected by the health crisis, even making it difficult for the organisers of the Vietnam Value Programme to obtain applications, organise conferences, and disseminate information.

Facing these circumstances, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) responded quickly and directed our Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE) to coordinate with relevant ministries and localities to implement online procedures for the programme. For example, we deployed online forms for the submission of applications, set up 24-hour consulting groups to assist businesses in completing their documents, and organised online conferences and seminars to support them with understanding the regulations and selection criteria of the programme.

This year was also the first that VIETRADE received applications and chose the national brands following the prime minister’s Decision No.30/2019/QD-TTg, under which applications were accepted no later than April 30. However, this was the most stressful time in our country’s fight against the pandemic, with enterprises facing many difficulties in complying with this deadline.

In this context, the MoIT has proposed to the government and related ministries to extend the application deadline and offered the aforementioned online services. In the end, more than 1,000 businesses still applied for the programme, more than in 2018 with only 900 applications despite the absence of an international health crisis.

How have the organising institutions handled the additional pressure from the pandemic during this year’s programme?

The pressure for the organisers and the chosen companies was very real. We had to effectively support businesses, overcome geographical distances, change the habit of meeting face to face, and redirect marketing and promotion efforts through online channels instead of traditional ones.

Nonetheless, everyone involved in this year’s programme has handled the situation flexibly and contributed to support businesses in promoting products in the domestic and foreign markets.

In addition to the introduced online procedures, we have also transmitted the data of the programme and the chosen companies and brands to Vietnam’s commercial counsellors in 63 countries to introduce this year’s businesses to these markets.

Some enterprises commented that the criteria of the programme were too strict compared to the general level of domestic enterprises. What is your view?

The criteria for selecting national brands are indeed very strict because this is a programme to select prestigious products that represent the image of Vietnamese goods in the domestic and international markets, especially high-end ones such as the EU, Japan, and the US. Therefore, we have referred to foreign exporting standards to research and build the criteria that were finally applied in the selection process.

How have chosen enterprises been supported to increase their competitiveness?

The Vietnam Value Programme is not an award, rather the government’s commitment to accompany business in their endeavour to grow and present our country’s high-quality goods and services inside and outside of our borders. An enterprise chosen as national brand receives the government’s threefold support.

Firstly, when participating in the programme, companies can use the national brand logo and the identification system in business administration and trade communication, according to the regulations.

In addition, the MoIT has been working closely with other ministries and localities to implement additional marketing campaigns and raise awareness within the society and business community, thus also supporting participating enterprises.

Furthermore, the ministry provides technical assistance on branding and development, thereby helping businesses protect their brand names, contributing to improving their competitiveness in the domestic and international markets.

VIETRADE is and will continue to carry out additional support programmes and help to promote national brands on mass media and invite these businesses to domestic and international exhibitions to raise their public exposure.

For example, for products related to food, we give priority to supporting enterprises to participate in major fairs and exhibitions around the world, such as the Sial Fair in Paris, certain exhibitions in Germany, and the Milan Fair in Italy – all important international fairs that exporting businesses cannot ignore.

At the same time, we are inviting international experts to research and develop specific strategies for each field to further support businesses and the promotion of their products on global media channels.

What are the MoIT’s plans to bring national brands to the global stage?

The ministry has proactively encouraged leaders of the Party, the state, and the government to further the negotiation and signing of new-generation free trade agreements, thereby expanding the scope of export markets for businesses, especially those with national brands here.

In addition, the MoIT is also developing a commodity import-export strategy for the next 10 years, which aims at identifying priority markets and avoiding dependence on several traditional markets to reduce risks related to trade remedies, while ensuring sustainable development for domestic enterprises. Accordingly, we will also see some specialised trade promotions to support national brands in international markets.

How has the MoIT been supporting businesses that struggled with exports and a forced return to the domestic market this year?

After the initial months of the health crisis, the domestic market had been redefined. From the beginning of the year, following the directions of the government, the MoIT has worked with ministries, agencies, and localities to implement supply and demand actions across the country to remove companies’ difficulties in production and distribution.

In addition, to support businesses with high-quality brands, we have also been integrating chosen brands in national promotions like the Clean Food Programme to endorse Vietnamese goods to locals. The integration of such programmes has helped the domestic market’s growth since the beginning of the year, despite the economic consequences of the pandemic. This shows that the communication, promotion, and support efforts of the MoIT and its agencies have so far been effective.

By Hai Van

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