The Hanoitimes - Not only being political and cultural ambassadors, the heads of Vietnam diplomatic missions should also become trade ambassadors, "sellers" who help taking Vietnamese goods and Vietnamese trademarks abroad, promote exports and attract investment to the country.
The meeting between enterprises and Vietnamese newly appointed heads of representative missions abroad has become a regular event before they leave for duty. Organized by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the meeting is always heated with many orders placed "directly" from domestic enterprises with the ambassadors and general consuls.
At the meeting, the enterprises acknowledged that the overseas representative missions have provided useful information for them to expand business operations in foreign countries.
Packing seafood for export in Binh Duong industrial zone.
"However, enterprises, especially small and medium enterprises, still need more market information. We hoped that overseas diplomatic missions will provide accurate information on sectors, productivity, and seasonal capacity of countries for enterprises to double check and avoid false market information, which could negatively affect the enterprise's plan," Vice Chairman cum General Secretary of Hanoi Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Mac Quoc Anh asked.
As one of those enterprises doing business in high risk markets such as the Middle East, La Manh Tien - General Director of Vietnam National Tea wished that Vietnamese overseas missions should help national enterprises to examine the partner's solvency or debt situation. Currently, Vietnam exports over 90% national tea productivity, of which the Middle East market is very potential. However, the Vietnamese enterprises operating in these markets are very "lonely", and have not been supported much by diplomatic missions of Vietnam.
Vietnamese overseas representative missions could also be helpful for enterprises business expansion, said the representative of Sun Star, who added that they will launch a line of organic cosmetic product and want the diplomatic missions to act as broker between them and foreign distributors. Meanwhile, at the meeting, some enterprises “placed order” to chiefs of representative missions to promote a number of Vietnamese potential commodities such as software and automation mechanics.
After listening to suggestions and opinions from enterprises, the ambassador of Viet Nam in the United Kingdom Tran Ngoc An stressed that as soon as they arrived in the host country, they would devote time for trade promotion mission. "We are ambassadors and also salesmen helping Vietnamese enterprises to penetrate into the local market. Particularly, I will be very interested in promoting software export for enterprises, or Vietnamese tea," An said.
For their part, the ambassadors need to be truly active and supportive in helping enterprises, avoiding “enterprises' calls to the embassy were left unanswered" as put forth by Bui Ngoc - Director of an olive oil importer. Ngoc said about her first time making phone call to the Embassy of Vietnam in Australia and the call was left unattended.
On the other hand, enterprises also need to make more efforts in promoting trade, investing in marketing and advertising their products and services through websites and brochures; ensuring the quality of goods according to international standards so that Vietnamese goods could easily penetrate into demanding markets. According to Nguyen Hai Bang, Vietnam's ambassador in Thailand, market expansion is highly dependent on internal resources of enterprises. Bang told the story about organizing the Vietnam-Japan business meeting when the Japanese side requested to be provided with records of Vietnamese enterprises, however, most enterprises did not have their records available in English or Japanese.
In addition, the ambassadors also recommended that enterprises, when working with foreign partners, especially in new markets, should carefully and strictly study the contracts, especially they must understand the language and the law in that market to avoid risks and inconveniences when making payment.
Immediately after the meeting, the heads of overseas representative missions had a meeting with the VCCI on how to set up a fund to support trade promotion programs. This fund will be raised from enterprises. The fund will be publicly and transparently made public and used for the right purpose.
Nguyen Tung - Trang Anh