The One Commune, One Product (OCOP) programme, which began in Quang Ninh in 2013 and has yielded many positive results, is now being implemented in all cities and provinces throughout Vietnam.
The programme has helped provinces not only promote production locally and increase their product presence in other cities across the country, but also boost exports.
Vietnam News reporter Ly Ly Cao talked to Nguyen Minh Tien, Director of the Trade Promotion Centre for Agriculture, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to learn more about selling OCOP products to the UK.
What advantages and disadvantages do OCOP enterprises encounter when they enter the UK market?
OCOP is a specialty product line of Vietnam, presenting the culture and traditions of each city and province. These characteristics are now in demand in other countries in Europe, including the UK market, in terms of consuming a variety of food. Therefore, we think this is an opportunity for traditional Vietnamese specialty products to penetrate more deeply into the UK market.
However, one of the basic limitations of the current OCOP products is that we have not met these markets' standards. We lack the tests and assessments that meet the strict requirements to enter the UK market, including the issues of ensuring food safety and hygiene, ensuring environmental issues, the issue of organic products, packaging and labeling, and other regulations.
Meanwhile, most businesses participating in the OCOP programme are small entities. Therefore, it is a big challenge for businesses to meet those criteria, as they do not have enough resources to deploy or hire evaluation consulting units that meet the standards.
Clearly, the role of the State agency is very important to how we support businesses to help them implement the assessment process and determine whether they will meet the strict standards of the markets. I believe this is the most significant barrier for OCOP products, particularly from small-scale units or businesses.
What advantages does the UKVFTA bring to OCOP products when entering the UK market?
Currently, with special free trade agreements, including the UKVFTA, Vietnam’s import tax rates have been greatly reduced, and we can compete with other countries when jumping into the UK and EU markets.
However, obtaining certificates and assessments that adhere to market standards and criteria is our main focus for companies and OCOP goods.
What do businesses need to do to take advantage of the agreement?
The key issue now is that the Government and agencies need to support businesses in implementing the evaluation, appraisal, and identification processes, especially for our agricultural products and food, to meet the needs of our customers, requirements on regulations, standards on food safety and hygiene, and other environmental requirements of the import market, including the EU and the UK.
Vietnamese agricultural products in general and OCOP products in particular will formally enter the UK market as well as other markets once they have satisfied all requirements, and then we will adjust and change packaging designs to meet the domestic market. The key now is the issue of evaluation and being granted the certificates to ensure the specified standards.
Currently, many policies have also been integrated with capital sources to organise the implementation of the OCOP Programme; supporting infrastructure investment, and product development. Specific support policies will need to be developed for OCOP products in accordance with the orientation and actual conditions of the locality.
I believe that with the current methodical approach, we have the full potential and opportunity to penetrate the UK and other markets more deeply, especially with the products we currently have that have the same strength as OCOP products.