Door to Japan opens wider for Vietnamese goods after TPP: envoy

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Door to Japan opens wider for Vietnamese goods after TPP: envoy

With Vietnam already enjoying a trade surplus with Japan, the elimination of tariffs after the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade accord takes effect will only open the door wider, a Vietnamese envoy in Tokyo has said. What matters is that Vietnamese businesses should make an effort to improve the quality of their products in order to meet the strict standards of the demanding Japanese market, Nguyen Trung Dung, a trade counselor from the Embassy of Vietnam in Japan, advised.

Vietnam and Japan are both party to the TPP, an ambitious free trade pact that includes ten other countries, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and the U.S.

Japan is committed to eliminating 95 percent of the current 9,018 tariff lines levied on Vietnamese imports, Dung told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The Vietnamese agriculture and seafood sectors are likely to receive the most benefit as more than 80 percent of the 2,238 tariff lines on their products will be slashed to zero.

“Especially, 51.3 percent of the agriculture and seafood tariffs will be removed immediately after the trade pact is put in place,” Dung underlined.

Japan keeps tariffs for five protected product lines, including dairy, pork, beef, sugarcane, and rice.

Vietnam is already exporting many kinds of agriculture and seafood products to Japan, so local businesses should improve the product quality to grasp the opportunity of the TPP, the envoy advised.

For instance, Vietnamese shrimp account for 18 percent of Japan’s imported shrimp market, and the export volume will surely increase after the tax is cut to zero from the current two percent, Dung said.

Vietnam can also grab the opportunity to increase exports of its dragon fruit and mango to Japan.

Dung emphasized the importance of ensuring that Vietnamese fruits are qualified to pass the strict food safety standards set by Japan.

It took Vietnam four to five years of talks to be able to sell its dragon fruit to Japan in 2009, and the same amount of time for the country’s mango variety of Cat Chu to follow suit in 2015.

“Vietnamese companies should cooperate with Japanese firms to take advantage of their technology and capital to be able to produce hi-tech, qualified products not only for Japan’s market but also other TPP countries,” Dung recommended.

The TPP pact, which aims to liberalize commerce in 40 percent of the world's economy, was reached by 12 countries on October 5, and its full text was only released a month later.

The party countries are expected to officially sign the deal no later than the end of the first quarter of next year, after which their legislatures will begin the ratification process.

Vietnam's lawmaking National Assembly could begin considering the pact in mid-2016, according to The Saigon Times Online.