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Companies briefed on ASEAN, Japan trade   2009-12-28 - VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Businesses had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of ASEAN economic agreements at a seminar held in HCM City last Friday by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Of Viet Nam's 30 biggest agricultural exports to Japan, 23 items - including honey, durian, coffee, tea, shrimp, and crabs - will also enjoy a zero tax rate.

The agreements include the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services, ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement, and ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATGA).

Le Trieu Dung, director of the ministry's ASEAN Department, urged firms to carefully study the trade agreements, especially tax agreements, to make best use of the preferences on offer.

Under ATGA, as of January 1 Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines will abolish tariffs on imports from ASEAN member countries.

As ATGA was aimed at building an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, investors setting up a factory in one country can export to the whole bloc, Dung said.

While Vietnamese consumers and manufacturers would have the opportunity to access goods and services at reasonable prices, it would also mean stiff competition with foreign enterprises, he said.

ASEAN is a market with 600 million consumers and a total gross domestic product of more than US$1.3 trillion and is one of Viet Nam's four top trading partners.

Last year, Viet Nam's exports to member countries topped $10.8 billion, with Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia being the major markets.

At another seminar on the same day officials introduced the Viet Nam-Japan Economic Partner Agreement (VJEPA), its tax structure, Japan's commitments under it, and benefits for Vietnamese enterprises.

The ministry's Le Quang Lan said many Vietnamese export items, like aquatic produce, apparel, wood and leather products, shoes, steel, and chemicals, would benefit from the abolition of import tax by Japan.

Of Viet Nam's 30 biggest agricultural exports to Japan, 23 items - including honey, durian, coffee, tea, shrimp, and crabs - will also enjoy a zero tax rate.

Tariff reductions

In the next 10 years, both countries will make progressive tariff reductions in an effort to achieve a free-trade area covering over 94 per cent of Viet Nam's exports and 87 per cent of Japan's exports.

Japan will also provide support with respect to quality standards and food hygiene and safety to help Vietnamese goods access its market.

Besides, the agreement would help speed up projects to promote business and develop support industries in Viet Nam, Lan said.

Le Trieu Dung said in the case of services, the level of opening under the VJEPA would be higher than WTO.

Under the agreement, the level of trade liberalisation is fairly high in the fields of information, construction; goods distribution, education, health, tourism, and transport and would be of benefit to Viet Nam, he said.

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