Jul 05, 2019 / 21:09

Hanoi committed to bolder steps after US slaps heavy duties on Vietnam steel

The Hanoitimes - Vietnam has said it will work with US agencies and asks its firms to use more locally-made materials.

Hanoi said it would soon work with the US to prevent falsified certificates of origin after the Trump administration announced to impose duties of more than 400% on steel imports from Vietnam using substrate from South Korean and Taiwan (China). 
Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: Zing
Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: Zing
Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has asked domestic firms to use locally-made materials or from other countries and territories instead of South Korean and Taiwan, said Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Hang said at a press conference on July 4 that the MOIT has also warned of possible trade protection measures by importing countries, and asked exporters to have good business plans.

Hanoi will work with US authorized agencies to protect legitimate rights of local firms in accordance with Vietnamese laws and the World Trade Organization, she added. 

The US Commerce Department said on Tuesday [July 2] it would impose duties of up to 456% on imports of the steel products produced in Vietnam using material from South Korea and Taiwan.

The department said certain steel such as corrosion-resistant steel products and cold-rolled steel are produced in South Korea or Taiwan, then shipped to Vietnam for minor processing and finally exported to the US.

Vietnam said it’s working to reduce its trade surplus with the US, and is already cracking down on Chinese manufacturers who are rerouting their goods via the Southeast Asian nation for export to the US in order to bypass higher tariffs, Bloomberg has reported.
Last month, the Vietnamese spokeswoman said that the government of Vietnam is determined to stop the illegal labelling of “Made in Vietnam” to export to other markets in referring to Chinese products. She noted that the General Department of Vietnam Customs is taking bold steps to prevent this and protect domestic production. 

Earlier, the department of customs said in an official announcement that it had found many falsified certificates of origin on iron, aluminum, textile, and farm produce. 

Lawrence Brader, portfolio manager at PXP Vietnam Asset Management Limited, said that the Vietnamese government has made moves to close the trade gap with the US. For example, in February 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnamese airlines inked trade deals worth more than US$20 billion to buy US-made airplanes at the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Vietnam’s President Nguyen Phu Trong.

On the sidelines of G20 Summit in Japan in late June, the President Trump and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc mentioned large-scale uptick agreements of liquefied natural gas from the US to Vietnam. 

The Vietnamese government has made a publicly seen measure to address the problem “and for now that is making Trump and his team happy,” Lawrence Brader said in an interview with Bloomberg on July 4.  

Vietnam’s annual trade surplus with the US has exceeded US$20 billion since 2014 and reached US$39.5 billion last year, the highest in records going back to 1990, according to US Census Bureau data.

In the first three months of 2019, American imports from Vietnam jumped 40.2% on year while orders from South Korea rose 18.4% and imports of Chinese goods plunged 13.9% as trade tensions heated up, according to the US Census Data and Statistics.