Vietnam looks to benefits from BTA ratification

Ha Noi, Jan. 20 (VNA) -- Trade export turnover to the U.S. is expected to increase between 30 and 35 percent a year to USD 3 billion by 2005, says Deputy Head of the Trade Ministry's Import-Export Service, Tran Quoc Khanh.

He says a large number of Vietnamese products targetted for the U.S. market will benefit from tariff cuts once the bilateral trade agreement (BTA), which was signed by the two countries in 2000, is ratified.

He lists footwear, garment, handicraft products, fine art articles, crude oil, wood furniture, fruit, farm produce and sea food as the major beneficiaries.

Khanh says that when Viet Nam wins the Normal Trade Relations (NTR) status given by the U.S. to every BTA partner, the country's canned pine-apple exports to the west's most powerful buyer will enjoy tenfold tariff cuts; handicraft products and fine art articles, seven to eight; and footwear, between three and four.

But Viet Nam's export turnover to the U.S. market surged to about USD 700 million last year from USD 204 million in 1996, one year after the two countries resumed commercial relations despite the high tariffs.

Garment and textile exports to the U.S. are expected to double last year's turnover to USD 100 million in 2001.

Viet Nam is the U.S.'s ninth largest shrimp exporter and earned an estimated USD 300 million from sea food, mostly frozen shrimp and fish, last year.

In addition, many other products: handicraft products and fine art articles, especially porcelain, footwear and leather products, rubber, soft drinks, and farm produce like coffee, pepper and cashew-nuts have already taken a foothold in the U.S. market, says Khanh.

However, export turnover is still modest, making up just five percent of the country's gross export turnover, less than one-third of exports to the European Union market and one-fifth of exports to Japan.--VNA