NA discusses problems besetting Vietnam's agricultural exports.
Agricultural exports were a major topic of discussion at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly yesterday, primarily the recent congestion seen at Vietnam’s northern border gates. “This is not only an issue for watermelon exports, as the media has reported recently, but also for other types of goods,” said Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh.
Rice, for example, has been facing similar problems at the border gates, where major delays are being experienced. The government has held two meetings and sought China’s cooperation in easing the congestion. Exporting rice through the northern border gate, however, seems likely to remain problematic. “China has said that it has large stockpiles of rice,” said Minister Vinh. “Traders who wish to import 1,000 tons of rice from Vietnam must commit to using this amount., which they can't do given the stockpile."
Other National Assembly members expressed concern with the ongoing situation, where local consumers are being asked to purchase excess agricultural products to make up for the shortfall in exports. “A previous Ministry of Industry and Trade campaign asked people to purchase excess watermelons, but this can’t continue indefinitely,” said Mr. Phung Quoc Hien, Chairman of the National Assembly’s Finance and Budgetary Committee. With no thorough, long-term solution, a similar situation is likely to occur again in the future with other goods.
Besides the congestion at border gates, Vietnam is locked in stiff competition in rice exports with other countries such as India and Pakistan. Certain markets still import from Vietnam because of its low price, but in limited amounts. “Many countries are restructuring their agriculture sector, but at a faster and more stable rate than we are, which makes our agricultural products less competitive,” Minister Vinh said. “This will remain a challenge for the economy in the second half of the year.”
According to a recent report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, exports of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products in the first four months of this year earned $9.1 billion in revenue, a 6 per cent decline year-on-year. Revenue from key agricultural exports such as rice, coffee, cashew nuts, rubber, and others, stood at $4.5 billion, also a 6 per cent decline, of which rice and coffee fell by the largest amounts.