VN-EU Free Trade Agreement
Brightening EVFTA Lighthouse

FNF Vietnam - EVFTA Lighthouse project
© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Vietnam

On the evening of April 6, 2021, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in Vietnam held a networking event called “Brightening EVFTA Lighthouse” at Renaissance Riverside Hotel, 8-15 Ton Duc Thang, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam.

The event was attended by representatives of FNF Vietnam, enterprises participating in the project, partners, representatives from certain Chambers of Industry and Commerce of European countries, foreign trade promotion organisations in Vietnam as well as interested reporters and journalists.

This activity is part of the “EVFTA Lighthouse” project, initiated and implemented by FNF Vietnam. The project kicked off in August 2020 with a view to showing practical examples of Vietnamese SMEs successfully cooperating with European businesses. It aimed to become the “Lighthouse” to help businesses navigate the European market through the Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the European Union (EVFTA), effective since August 2020.

After almost one year of pursuing the project, FNF Vietnam, in collaboration with its partners, has conducted many in-depth training courses for businesses on international trade issues regarding EVFTA in Can Tho, Dong Thap, and Ho Chi Minh City, along with activities to stimulate Vietnam - Europe trade through a network of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and international organisations in Vietnam.

To reinitiate the chain of activities in the EVFTA Lighthouse initiative in the year 2021, the networking event “Brightening EVFTA Lighthouse” strives to:

(1) Meet and connect with companies, FNF’s partners in the project, potential partners, and foreign trade promotion organisations;

(2) Create opportunities for companies to present their products and their import/ export directions with experts experienced in trade promotion, communication, and project partners;

(3) Discuss with and listen to comments from partners to optimise activities of the “EVFTA Lighthouse” initiative in 2021.

In addition, the event also summarised the project's activities in 2020 and opened a space for domestic and foreign businesses as well as trade promotion organisations to explore cooperation opportunities.

Ms. Bui Ha Linh, Project Manager of EVFTA Lighthouse said: “After training sessions and discussions with experts since August 2020, not only businesses but also FNF have witnessed a lot of changes in the understanding and approach to the EVFTA Agreement and ways to encourage Vietnamese businesses to utilize this Free Trade Agreement effectively. After the first exchanges, from the passive knowledge receiver, businesses have become proactive and immediately practiced their lessons by analysing the market, redesigning packaging, products, reaching out to partners, etc., and giving feedback to us on necessary activities that need to be coached simultaneously. Witnessing the initiative, cooperation, and desire to learn from businesses, more than anyone else, we feel that the project has been successful. Together with our businesses, we have built an effective training, practice, and connection model. This would be a practical source that we can draw upon to have not one but many ‘Lighthouses’ in EVFTA.”

VietHaus, one of the four SME beneficiaries of the project, an exporter of Vietnam's organic spice products to Europe, shared: “Knowledge of the market, strong internal strength of quality products and services meeting European standards, and support for business opportunities between SMEs in Vietnam and the EU are the elements that SMEs the like of us desperately need. Through the EVFTA Lighthouse project, we are trained to analyse and understand whether the market is suitable for us, to determine our role in the supply and value chain... European markets thus became more apparent to us. We feel fortunate to have the support from the project. “

As of writing, FNF Vietnam has successfully built a training model combining theory with practice, been connecting EU-Vietnam businesses thanks to the experiences of 2020-2021, and at the same time been expanding the network of potential participants.

Besides trade promotion agencies from Germany, Poland, Italy, and Italy, FNF started to connect and share projects with the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of France, Central, and Eastern Europe, or Bavaria International. We want to connect with all European trade promotion agencies in Vietnam, to work together to create more successful businesses under EVFTA.

We are always willing to share our project constructing model with trade promotion organisations, NGOs, etc. to reproduce the project in other regions and provinces.