31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Oct 05, 2021 / 13:43

[Vietnam-US relations] Agriculture – a prominent pillar in US-Vietnam trade: Marc Knapper

American agricultural products are available in many parts of Vietnam and some are becoming well-received in the country of 100 million people.

Agriculture plays a prominent role in trade relations between the US and Vietnam, US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Evans Knapper has said.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Evans Knapper at a press conference in Hanoi. Photo: NLD 

The ambassador shared the idea at the United Tastes of Food and Wine Reception held in Hanoi earlier this week in collaboration between the US Embassy, the California Milk Advisory Board, and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

To boost the market share of American agricultural products in the Southeast Asian country, relevant agencies are working for further availability. “We are looking for ways to expand US agricultural imports into Vietnam,” Ambassador Knapper said.

What Ambassador Knapper said might be true, based on the fact that American agricultural products are safe and delicious, having the highest quality in the world.

“We believe that through American food products we can introduce people of Vietnam even more from the US,” the ambassador told The Hanoi Times. “We think our agricultural products have the highest standards in the world and the best tastes, so we keep producing and continuing to introduce to the people of Vietnam great products from the US,” he added.

In reality, American agricultural products are available in many parts of Vietnam and some are becoming well-received in the country of 100 million people. 

The ambassador attributed the popularity to some similarities in the culture of the two countries, naming it the production mode. In the US, there are many farmers and ranchers who operate more farms and more ranches to feed other families, their neighbors, and their communities. In Vietnam, the farmers do the same way to provide for their own and their communities, he noted.

“I’m very happy that our farmers can share their products with the people of Vietnam and they could be very happy that Americans can enjoy agricultural products from Vietnam as well,” Knapper said.

 General Director of BRG Retail Nguyen Thai Dung (R) with US partners at the reception. Photo: US Embassy in Hanoi  

Demand in Vietnam

Talking about the acceptance of American farm goods, Nguyen Thai Dung, General Director of BRG Retail, said they are suitable for several market segments in Vietnam for some reasons, namely high quality and reasonable prices.

He gave an example of the short plate which was marked at about VND150,000 (US$6.5)/kg in addition to a chuck steak, brisket, and striploin which are priced higher but totally affordable to the majority of customers.

Dung said the high demand lately has enabled BRG to focus on American agricultural products including beef, pork, cheese, and seasonal fruits like apple, grape, and cherry, making them one of the key items of the group’s supermarkets and hotels.

He said all the imported products are certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and imported from Tyson Food, the Arkansas-based multinational corporation which is the world’s second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, pork, and beef.

From the perspective of a chef, Cam Thien Long or Steven Long, Brand Ambassador of MM Mega Market Vietnam for 2022, said the US's Nebraska beef is good for some Western dishes and it’s the reason why he used that kind of beef for Ratatouille at the reception.

Interestingly, Nebraska beef was cooked together with some Vietnamese materials like tender tamarind leaves to form a mixed taste that curbs aversions and keeps the flavor of the beef, the Vietnamese chef, who is also Vice President of the Saigon Professional Chefs Association, Ambassador of Chefs Without Borders in Vietnam, told The Hanoi Times.   

 Vietnamese chef Cam Thien Long or Steven Long. Photo: Linh Pham


Vietnam-US agricultural relations

In the US-Vietnam trade relations that have grown by a two-digit rate over the past years, agriculture accounts for a significant part which was reflected in the multibillion-dollar categories.

According to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), US total exports of agricultural products to Vietnam totaled $3.4 billion in 2020, listing Vietnam as the 7th largest agricultural export market in the country. Leading domestic export categories included cotton ($1.2 billion), soybeans ($425 million), distillers grains ($284 million), dairy products ($185 million), and other feeds, meals and fodders ($155 million).

Meanwhile, the US's total imports of agricultural products from Vietnam hit $2.1 billion in 2020, being the US's 20th largest supplier of agricultural imports. Leading categories include tree nuts ($1.1 billion), unroasted coffee ($275 million), spices ($203 million), sugars, sweeteners, beverages bases ($71 million), and dog and cat food ($70 million).

The statistics support the ambassador’s belief in the important role of agriculture in two-way trade.

Since 2006, no other major US agricultural export market has grown as quickly as Vietnam. This is a significant and growing market for US producers and a driver for the American economy, according to USDA.

In the 2021 US Agricultural Export Yearbook released by the USDA on April 14, 2022, Vietnam is among the US top 15 export destinations. These top 15 export markets represent more than 80% of total US agricultural exports in 2021.

Specifically, Vietnam is forecast to import more corn, approximately 10.5 million metric tons (MMT) in the marketing year 2022/2023, to offset lower domestic production and reduced feed wheat supply, said USDA.

In less than a decade, Vietnam has grown from a top 10 to a top three corn importer in the world. The country is a significant importer of both US corn and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) with additional future potential for US sorghum. A rising middle class is also creating additional demand for ethanol, aided by a nationwide E5 policy that has ambitions to expand to E10. Vietnam imported 3.51 million gallons of US ethanol in the 2018/2019 marketing year, more than tripling sales from the previous year.

Vietnam is the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia, thanks to increasing population, urbanization, and rapid economic growth, USDA emphasized.