Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that Vietnam’s exports to the US topped 21 billion USD in the first half of this year, up 10 percent year-on-year, accounting for 19 percent of the country’s total. Notably, the figure has grown 20 percent annually over the past years.
Nguyen Thang Vuong, head of the ministry’s Department of European – American Markets, said the US market is highly competitive with high transportation cost due to far geographical distance and complicated trade laws.
Another obstacle is high technical barriers on food safety and increased protection of domestic manufacturing.
Former Minister Counselor at the Vietnam Embassy’s Trade Office in the US Dao Tran Nhan said the US’s Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) poses a barrier to Vietnamese exporters, laying a burden on both importers and manufacturers regarding food safety and hygiene and supervision.
Nhan described the FSMA’s regulation on building a food safety and hygiene programme at the manufacturing and processing facilities as very stringent because the US will trace the origin of products before they enter the market.
The programme requires having Vietnamese staff proficient in English and allows the US staff to inspect manufacturing facilities without informing Vietnamese agencies concerned.
Though entering the US via supermarkets like Walmart and Kroger is the fastest way, it is by no means easy, he said, adding that one of the criteria for Walmart to consider opening an outlet is that the market must have at least 100 million people. The giant retailer is eyeing China and India.
He suggested navigating the US market via representative offices or branches of retail groups, adding that Walmart and Target have established their representative offices in Ho Chi Minh City.
He noted that major US retailers also pay attention to salary, working hours, welfare, training and environment hygiene.