Vietnam urges China to import more agriculture produce

By Dat Nguyen   November 5, 2018 | 12:09 am PT
Vietnam urges China to import more agriculture produce
Farmers plant rice on a paddy in Vietnam's northern Phu Tho Province outside Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham
China should import more Vietnamese products, especially agriculture produce, so as to balance bilateral trade, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Sunday.

"As Vietnam is seeing a great trade deficit with China, you [Chinese businesses] should import more products from Vietnam, starting with agricultural products, to balance bilateral trade," the prime minister said at a meeting with Chinese businesses in Shanghai before the November 5-10 China International Import Expo (CIIE).

"This is in line with the policy of China’s top leaders, who have repeatedly told us that they are keen to move towards a trade balance between China and Vietnam,” he noted.

China is currently the largest market for agricultural products in Vietnam with the export turnover of agriculture, forestry and fishery products this year estimated at over $35 billion, up nearly 9 percent over the same period last year, Voice of Vietnam quoted Phuc as saying.

However, most Vietnamese produce are mostly consumed in China’s southern Yunnan Province and the Guangxi region bordering Vietnam, not in the rest of the country, he said.

As the second largest agricultural produce exporter in ASEAN with over 20 agriculture products that have an annual export value of over $1 billion worth, Vietnam offers many products favored by Chinese consumers, the PM said.

Many Vietnamese agriculture produce are among the world’s best, like rice, pepper, cashew, pangasius fish and shrimp, he noted, adding that its fruits, like dragonfruit, mango, longan and watermelon, have passed import standards set by Australia, the EU, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

These products have great potential to boost bilateral trade cooperation, the PM stressed.

Representatives of Chinese corporations at the meeting said they value the investment potential in Vietnam and are interested in bringing Vietnamese agriculture produce to China and and the world.

Pu Jian, executive director of the CITIC International Asset Management company, said that he could bring Vietnamese products more deeply into the Chinese market as his company specializes in importing rice, fruits and other produce.

His corporation also owns 60 percent of McDonald shares with over 3,500 stores in China, and this could be a potential channel to consume Vietnamese produce, he added.

Johnson Choi, executive director of China’s conglomerate Sunwah Group and general director of Sunwah Vietnam, said that his company would like to distribute Vietnamese coffee in the Chinese market and invest in Vietnam’s “green” agriculture.

In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping the same day on the sidelines of the CIIE, China’s major event seeking more import opportunities, PM Phuc stressed that Vietnam always attaches great importance to the development of friendly, stable and healthy relations with China.

China should adopt policies and practical measures to reduce the current large trade deficit with Vietnam, he added.

Xi said that his country doesn’t want to pursue a trade surplus with Vietnam, and will increase imports from Vietnam towards more balanced and sustainable bilateral trade.

Vietnam-China trade reached $93.69 billion last year, up 30.2 percent from 2016. Vietnam earned $35.46 billion from exports to China, up 61.5 percent, while spending $58.22 billion on imports from the country, up 16.4 percent.

In the first nine months this year, bilateral trade between the two countries reached $76.06 billion, up 18.7 percent over the same period last year.

China continues to be Vietnam's largest trading partner and the one with which it has the largest trade deficit. It is also Vietnam's second largest export market after the U.S, according to Vietnam Customs.

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