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Firms suggested to stay well-informed to avoid trade remedy risks

Australia is a potential export market but also poses risks of trade remedy investigations, so enterprises should stay well-informed to avoid risks, head a recent seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City.

Trade between the two countries has been growing continually, by an annual average of 11.5% during 2011 - 2021. Australia was the 10th largest trading partner of Vietnam last year, when bilateral trade turnover rose 49% year on year to 12.4 billion USD. It ranked 7th among the trading partners of Vietnam in the first seven months of 2022, said Nguyen Thi Phuong Nga, an official of the Asia - Africa Market Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

An advantage of Vietnamese exporters is that the two countries’ goods structures are complementary to each other, she noted, elaborating that Vietnam ships agricultural, fishery and wood products, machinery, transport vehicles, and steel to Australia which, in turn, exports textile - garment and leather - footwear materials, coal, iron ore, dairy products, chemicals and chemical products to the Southeast Asian nation.

Besides, the two are also partners in three free trade agreements (FTAs), namely the ASEAN - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Nga added.

Chu Thang Trung, Deputy Director of the ministry’s Trade Remedies Authority of Vietnam (TRAV), pointed out that aside from market opportunities, there remain challenges, including risks of trade remedy investigations. If trade remedies are imposed, businesses could face higher export tariffs compared to the pre-FTA levels and lose part of or the entire market they export to.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and FTAs allow member states to use trade remedies when necessary, so countries tend to use this tool to protect domestic production and labourers in the face of growing imports. Popular trade remedy instruments include anti-dumping, anti-subsidy, safeguard, and anti-circumvention duties, said Phung Gia Duc from TRAV.

Vietnamese exports had been subject to 222 trade remedy investigations as of June 2022. Eighteen were conducted by Australia, and all of them anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes, with 61% against steel products and 16.7% against other metals. The number of such cases is still on the rise.

Duc held that close coordination among Government agencies, business associations, and enterprises is necessary to secure good results for exporters in trade remedy cases.

He called for active cooperation from businesses during not only investigations but also annual and end-of-term reviews to ease or completely lift trade remedies.

At the seminar, experts also recommended firms take into account trade remedy risks when making production, business, and export strategies; promote their competitiveness by improving quality instead of reducing prices; and equip themselves with knowledge about trade remedy regulations to have appropriate response.

The most important thing in international trade is to strictly comply with rules of origin and not circumvent trade remedies, or both enterprises and their entire sectors will suffer from serious financial and reputation damage, they added./.