“We want to have healthy products and bilateral trade relationship with Vietnam, and we need to ensure that the products imported from Vietnam comply with US standards”, said Steven Bipes, a senior official from the American National Standards Institute.
The US is considered one of Vietnam’s largest and most important markets with numerous export items such as electronics, garment and textile products, footwear, farm products and seafood. In recent years, Vietnam’s exports to the US have increased rapidly. However, the proportion in the US market still remains low as domestic businesses have not yet fulfilled strict requirements of this high-income but demanding market.
At present, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in cooperation with the Vietnamese Directorate for Standards and Quality (STAMEQ) is organising a week-long training programme (from March 10-18) to help the Government of Vietnam implement a transparent, open and consensus-based standards and regulatory system that incorporates international practices.
VOVNews reporter interviewed Director of the International Policy of Regional & Bilateral Programmes of the ANSI, Steven Bipes, about issues relating to US assistance to Vietnam in building a modern system of standards, prospects for export from Vietnam to the US.
Reporter: What is your assessment of Vietnamese products exported to the US?
Mr Steven: There are many high quality products from Vietnam, including vehicles, pharmaceutical products and construction equipment and materials that Vietnam exports to the US. We want to have a healthy products and bilateral trade relationship with Vietnam, and we need to ensure that the products imported from Vietnam comply with US standards.
All the requirements are to ensure that both public and private sectors comply with the standards.
It may prove difficult for Vietnamese companies when they want to export to the US or any other economies globally, however they realise that their products do not comply with the target markets’ requirements or international standards. The purpose of this training course is to help companies and public officials be more aware of what the procedures are under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), technical barriers and trade agreements, and how to develop and engage international standards and ensure that products exported from Vietnam comply with the international standards.
Reporter:Could you talk about prospects to export Vietnamese products to the US market?
Mr Steven: Any company which is globally competitive and can meet international standards, and if any of them have potential for raising GDP of Vietnam and become more integrated with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and internationally can export their products to the US and other markets.
Reporter:How does the US help Vietnam develop a standard system?
Mr Steven: The standard system in Vietnam as defined by STAMEQ is quite robust and is relating to the development of international standards as defined by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
STAMEQ is also aware of all of the other international standard organisations and all the other groups that comply with WTO requirements for the development of the international standards.
The private sector is becoming more engaged in the standard APEC committee and in the committee of the international organisations outside of Vietnam.
This particular project with the US has proceeded for about three months and we have had a digital video conference between the World Bank (WB) and STAMEQ. We also have in- country sessions and follow up sessions in a few weeks.
Reporter:Could you elaborate on technical barriers facing Vietnamese exporters to the US?
Mr Steven: Every different sector has unique technical regulations which are both mandatory and voluntary and part of what we propose to do in the long term will be to produce a directory of the standards necessary in both Vietnam and the US. A US-Vietnam standard portal will help enterprises in Vietnam understand more about any particular product, so they can design, manufacture, ship and be guaranteed that their products are made with the minimum of problems.
Each sector is unique. For example, Vietnam export pencils, there are some requirements for pencils. Vietnam is exporting medical equipment, more regulated requirements both in mandatory technical regulations and voluntary standards will be required. Maybe, in pencil there are no certificates required, but for medical equipment, testing certification by a third party is required and depends on the sector.
That’s why we want to publicise the US-Vietnam standard portal to clarify the requirements for each sector so that enterprises can know in advance. Transparency is vital to facilitate the trade relations between Vietnam and the US.
Reporter: Could you share any experience with Vietnamese enterprises who want to export their products to the US?
Mr Steven: For example, when a US company receives the first batch of pencils from anywhere in the world, they will be sceptical, maybe they do a 100 percent inspection, as they buy more pencils, trust is developed and they may then lower the standard checks dropping the percentage of products they sample to maybe ten or even one percent, but there will be problem when they want to increase the sampling level again. Conformity assessment is all about confidence.
One of goals of global standards is for the community to get regulator to define common international standards instead of inventing their own because that acts as a barrier to trade.
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