Virtually all the speakers agreed on the fact that the trade deficits are the result of a structural crisis created by the lack of competitiveness of domestic sector businesses with their counterparts in the AEC such as those in Thailand and Laos.
Do Quoc Hung, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Asia-Pacific Department, summed it up when he said that the formation of the AEC required Vietnam to open the doors to the domestic market to exports from other AEC member states.
Local companies failed to adequately prepare and now are lagging in their ability to compete and must play catch-up.
They are lacking the capacity to compete both in the domestic and the nine markets of the other AEC member states of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Resolving the dilemma requires Vietnamese local businesses to improve their competitive capacity by investing in and installing state-of-art technologies and improving the overall quality of their products.
They must also learn how to innovate and apply new technologies to increase labour productivity and create new and novel products with high added value in lieu of simply focusing on commodities that require little skill to produce and have relatively low value.
In addition, they must learn how to communicate effectively in other languages and study foreign cultures to ensure they understand the demands of foreign marketplaces and can produce products to satisfy those demands.
Lastly, they must learn the art of advertising and marketing, understand how to build a brand and trademark as well as develop global distribution networks so they can profitably manufacture innovative products and export to foreign markets.