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VN agriculture favoured with special status
12 | 07 | 2007
Cuu Long Delta — Farmers will benefit tremendously from the most favoured nation (MFN) status that was granted by the World Trade Organisation last year, according to delegates at a recent conference.

The MFN status will be a boon in particular for the country’s coffee, pepper, rubber, tea and timber farmers providing greater opportunity for products to reach international markets, said officials at the "Viet Nam’s WTO commitments and their impacts on agriculture" workshop in Can Tho.

Some 200 participants from 13 provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta discussed how best to utilise export opportunities and developing comparative advantages in the WTO era.

They agreed the MFN status will help the economy develop, especially given the added benefits of low labour, raw material and equipment costs. Such an environment is attractive to both domestic and foreign investors, said delegates.

As well noted in previous seminars on WTO accession, the country also faces a number of challenges, including limited output with too many small scale farms; on average, there is only 0.8ha per household.

Quality control was also a concern raised at the meeting, while commodities like sugar, dairy and meats were noted as having a competitive disadvantage that puts them under slightly more pressure.

Officials said processed agriculture products may share a similar fate.

A lack of financial resources among companies may also cause difficulties, said officials.

To overcome challenges, participants asked the Government to support trade promotion activities and alleviate transportation cost pressures inside and outside the country for exported goods.

They asked the Government to support the agriculture sector through policies in line with WTO regulations. They want the Government to support poor households and investments; implement the calamity insurance scheme and help farmers improve output through their co-operatives or associations.

The participants emphasised the need for Government protection when large volumes of foreign products seriously affect the domestic market adversely.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed an international economic integration programme from now until 2010, under which officials will try to complete regulatory and oversight policies to help the sector grow. The ministry also plans to propose a new policy to improve veterinary services and plant protection with the aim to improve quality standards.

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