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Vietnam Contrives to Make the Best of WTO’s Special Status in Agriculture
13 | 07 | 2007
Some 200 participants from 13 provinces in Mekong Delta region gathered in a workshop in Can Tho City to seek for solutions to take full advantage of the most favored nation (MFN) status granted by the World Trade Organization.
The participants agreed the MFN status will help the economy develop, especially given the added benefits of low labor, raw material and equipment costs.
 
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 "Vietnam’s WTO commitments and their impacts on agriculture" workshop.
 
The participants discussed how to utilize best export opportunities and developing comparative advantages in the WTO era.
 
They also admitted that Vietnam is facing with by a number of challenges, including limited output with too many small-scale farms, which is only 0.8ha per household on average.
 
Quality control was also a concern raised at the meeting, at the context that Vietnamese exported rice and seafood are discovered containing antibiotic substances.
 
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 emphasized 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 program 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.
 
Vietnam has acknowledged nine key agricultural export products, comprising rice, coffee, rubber, cashew, tea, pepper, woodwork product, seafood and vegetable.
 
In the first half of 2007, the nine products brought in US$5.848 billion in export revenue, with coffee, woodwork products and seafood contributing nearly US$1.2 billion each, according to the General Statistics Office


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