Vietnam offers exciting export opportunities

U.S. exports to Vietnam totaled $2.3 billion in 2015, according to USDA, and now ranks as the 11th largest agricultural export market for the U.S.

Last year, the U.S. exported pork and pork products to Vietnam valuing $3.8 million. The Vietnamese are large consumers of pork, which means significant potential for U.S. exporters in the future. USDA says, "Under the [Trans-Pacific Partnership] agreement, Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on pork and pork products, currently as high as 30%, in 5-10 years. Tariffs on frozen cuts and shoulders will be eliminated in eight years and on preserved pork, fresh pork cuts and shoulders, and fresh and frozen carcasses, in 10 years."

Exports from the U.S. to Vietnam have shown a 357% increase since 2007, the year Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization.

"Vietnam is a member of the ASEAN Free Trade Zone and has concluded free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including key U.S. competitors such as Australia, Chile, Korea, and New Zealand," reports USDA. "In addition to being part of the TPP, Vietnam is in the process of negotiating agreements with China, the European Union, Hong Kong, and Israel. In these negotiations, Vietnam has agreed to tariff reductions on many agricultural products, potentially putting U.S. exporters at a disadvantage."

Vietnam's average tariff on agricultural products is 16%, while the average U.S. tariff is 5%, according to USDA. It states that under the TPP, Vietnam will reduce and eventually eliminate tariffs across a broad range of food and agricultural products, helping put U.S. exports on a level playing field and giving the United States a leg up on non-TPP competitors. In addition to addressing tariffs, the TPP agreement also addresses non-tariff trade barriers, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Secretary Vilsack is in Vietnam this week to meet with his counterparts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, among others, to discuss the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.