Buying and Selling

flag Vietnam Vietnam: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier

 

Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
International Economic Cooperation
Asia - Pacific Economic Cooperation - APEC

Association of Southeast Asian Nations - ASEAN

Non Tariff Barriers
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Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Click here for further information.


Customs Classification
The classification of import and export goods must be based on:
- Vietnam ’s Classification List of Import and Export Goods; Preferential Import Tariff Nomenclature; Export Tariff Nomenclature;
- Six (6) general rules of HS Convention;
- Obligatory explanatory notes of HS Convention;
- Making references to supplementary explanatory notes of ASEAN Harmonised Tariff Nomenclature and detailed explanatory notes of the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS).
Import Procedures
Business entities, including foreign-invested enterprises with a legally registered business license, may be engaged in direct import and export activities. However, foreign-invested enterprises can import materials, equipment, and machinery only for establishing production lines and producing goods in accordance with their investment licenses. Under Vietnam’s WTO commitments, trading rights are now open to all foreign-invested enterprises. Vietnam facilitates an automatic import licensing system that requires importers of a wide category of goods to obtain a license from MOIT to get their goods through customs. Distribution rights for these entities are opened to joint venture investment with no limit on capital contribution, and since 2009 have been opened to wholly foreign-invested enterprises.

Seven ministries and agencies are responsible for overseeing a system of minimum quality/performance standards for animal and plant protection, health safety, local network compatibility (in the case of telecommunications), money security, and cultural sensitivity. Goods that meet the minimum standards can be imported upon demand and in unlimited quantity and value.

When carrying out customs procedures for importing goods, the customs declarers must submit a customs application file with the General Department of Vietnam Customs and vouch for the lawfulness and accuracy of its content.

Please consult the webpage of Vietnam Customs for more information.
Importing Samples
Consulting the procedure.
 
 
For Further Information
General Department of Vietnam Customs
ITPC
Vietnam Trade Portal
Asia Trade Hub
Vasep
Vietfood

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
Vietnam is among the most dynamic, emerging economies of Southeast Asia. It has a young, large population: the under 35 currently represent 55.5% of the population (2019 Population Census Report).
Consumer expenditure has been growing steadily in Vietnam, thanks to rising incomes amid strengthening economic activity. Consumer expenditure’s growth had a faster pace compared with income rises, mainly due to the strengthening of consumer confidence in light of Vietnam’s bright economic outlook and low unemployment, stimulating confidence in consumers about their future earnings.
63.3% of the country’s population lives in rural areas (World Bank - 2019, latest data available), and their consumer expenditure accounts for about 58% of the country’s total (Hong Kong Trade Development Council, latest data available). But the average spending by urban residents is still higher than that of rural dwellers, as they account for only 36.6% of the population (World Bank - 2019, latest data available) but spend 42% of the country’s consumer expenditure (Hong Kong Trade Development Council, latest data available). Lately, consumption has been influenced by higher living costs as the cost of living is also growing rapidly, especially in urban areas.
Ho Chi Minh City is home to an ever-growing array of shopping malls and supermarkets, nevertheless, Vietnamese consumers still prefer traditional shopping outlets such as wet markets and mom-and-pop stores known as ‘tap hoa’. In fact, this type of shops provides a highly personalized shopping experience that allows residents of the surrounding neighbourhood to form friendships with the owners.
Younger generations are increasingly shopping in convenience stores and are keener to shop online, especially for clothing and home appliances. Shopping online is still in its early stages in Vietnam, with international giants like Amazon not available, but sites such as Lazada and Tiki are increasingly sophisticated and convenient.
Consumer Behaviour
The transformation of Vietnam over the last 10 years determined the rapidly changing consumer marketing environment.
Vietnamese consumers are now more confident about their future earnings given the country’s economic expansion, which is boosting incomes and consumer spending. As a result, they are increasingly purchasing fashionable and quality products to improve their living standards, although generally, their income levels are still not comparable with Western standards. Foreign brands and suppliers are increasingly distributing medium-priced and value-for-money products to tap this emerging demand.
Reputable brands not only appeal to consumers due to their design or function but also because they are often promoted as being of international quality. Office staff and younger professionals with higher salaries often look for branded products and are used to comparing local and imported items.
Spending on housing, food items and transportation accounts for almost 60% of consumer expenditure (Hong Kong Trade Development Council, latest data available). Consumers, therefore, have become prudent in their spending on other items and tend to look for value-for-money and reasonable quality in order to be able to afford fashionable items.
Online shopping or research on products is not yet widespread in Vietnam, but it has a high-growth potential as internet penetration is increasing.
Consumers Associations
VINASTAS (Vietnam Standards and Consumers Association)
Main Advertising Agencies
Mullen Lowe Vietnam
Daiko Vietnam
Dentsu Vietnam

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Before the 'Doi moi- Renovation', the distribution network was under State authority, which had a monopoly in this field. Today, goods are distributed in markets, shops, supermarkets, retailers, wholesalers, etc. Vietnamese law since 2011 guarantees the right to import, export and distribute. Goods circulation thus follows the laws of supply and demand. There are currently 1,765 convenience stores in Vietnam. That is to say, there is approximately one convenience store per 54,400 Vietnamese citizens.

According to Vietnam’s trade ministry, the country’s retail market would hit US$179 billion by 2020, a jump of 52% from 2016. Modern retail formats, such as air-conditioned mini-marts, supermarkets and small shopping complexes, are becoming more prevalent, luring consumers away from traditional outdoor markets. While the older generation still tends to prefer traditional markets, modern outlets are increasingly valued for their hygienic, convenient and friendly shopping environments. Moreover, these modern outlets have attracted customers with promotions and loyalty programmes. More than 70% of convenience stores in Vietnam belong to foreign companies. Although local brands such as have more stores than foreign names, their market share is much lower.

Supermarkets are thus increasingly the favourite distributor in Vietnam. Apart from Vietnamese owned supermarkets, a growing number of foreign retailers and wholesalers are entering the Vietnamese market. Reforms in January 2015 opened the retail sector to wholly foreign-owned businesses. That year, the number of supermarkets and convenience stores grew, enhancing competition among suppliers.

Vietnamese prefer to shop in convenience stores. More than one-thirds of households in Vietnam has shopped in convenience stores at least once in the past year. The growth rate of modern distribution channels from April 2016 to March 2017 was 7.7%, higher than the growth rate of 6.1% of the traditional distribution channels.
Market share
According to the latest available data from the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, there are more than 800 supermarkets, 150 shopping centres and 9,000 traditional markets in the country. 4% of the supermarkets and 25% of the shopping centres are foreign-owned.

Vietnam’s leading distributors include DKSH, Phu Thai and Thuan Hung Co. The most known supermarkets include Intimex, Co.opmart, Fivimart and Citimart. Fivimart and Intimidex are popular in Hanoi, while Saigon Co-op is more popular in Ho Chi Minh City. Leading foreign modern supermarkets and convenience stores include Family Mart, Malaysia-based Shop & Go, Germany-based Metro and the Big C group. Big C is a hypermarket brand. Metro hypermarket, which specialises in discount bulk sales, is popular in Hanoi.

Major department stores include Parkson and Diamond Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Vincom, Trang Tien Plaza, Grand Plaza, the Manor and Parkson in Hanoi. Lotte Mart is a shopping mall, with outlets in both of these cities.

Convenience stores operating under a brand name include Co.opFood (part of the Saigon Co.op), G7 Mart and Shop & Go. They are in direct competition with most traditional markets.

In the grocery market, Saigon Union of Trading Cooperatives is the leader, while VinPro successfully penetrated the market in 2015. Other big names in this segment include Phu Thai Group and Family Co Ltd.

Traditional wet markets and small independent stores still dominate Vietnam's retail market. Sales generated by traditional retailers in 2019 accounted for 86% of total grocery retail sales according to GSO.

Retail Sector Organisations
Association of Vietnam Retailers
Ministry of Planning and Investment Portal

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E-commerce

Internet access
Internet penetration has been continually growing in Vietnam. As of December 2017, Vietnam had a population of 96.49 million people, out of which there were 64 million internet users, placing the penetration rate at 66.3%. According to Vietnam Net, 67% of the population had access to the internet on their smartphones as of January 2018; and 52% of the population also had access to social media through their smartphones. Mobile broadband has played a significant role in increasing access to faster internet service, and fixed broadband remains a relatively small segment. Mobile phones are the most common device used to access the internet, as 85% of users aged between 15 and 49 go online via smartphones. As of January 2018, 72% of the adult population in Vietnam owned a smartphone, while 43% owned a computer and 13% had tablets. According to FreedomHouse, Vietnam's internet is considered "Not Free", given that the government may occasionally restrict access to the internet for political or security reasons, and social media and communications apps are periodically blocked. As of July 2018, the most popular browser in the country by market share was Chrome (78.3%), followed by Firefox (8.33%), Opera (3.6%), Safari (3.24%), Android (2.82%) and Microsoft Edge (1.15%). As for search engines, Google (92.58%) dominated the market, followed by CocCoc (4.73%), Bing (1.1%) and Yahoo (1.02%).
E-commerce market
E-commerce revenue in Vietnam amounted to US$ 2.73 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach US$ 4.54 billion by 2022, at an estimated annual growth rate of 13.5% (Statista). There are currently 35.4 million e-commerce users in Vietnam, a number that is expected to reach 42 million by 2021, which will represent 58% of the total population. E-commerce is expected to continue to grow mainly thanks to the growth of smartphone usage. As of January 2018, the most popular categories for consumers were: technology and electronic equipment (US$840.7 million), followed by travel (US$541.1 million), furniture & appliances (US$367.9 million), toys & hobbies (US$86.3 million), and fashion and beauty (US$358.3 million). E-commerce in Vietnam has made great progress in recent years. Internet retailers entered the Vietnamese market in the last five years, and global players have done so only recently (between 2016 and 2017), which presents an opportunity for stores to diversify their sales channels. Even though the market is growing, it still faces some challenges. Some issues include customers’ low trust in online shopping, few online payment platforms, quality of delivery and services, and unclear customs mechanisms and policies. Logistics also remains an obstacle for the sector, especially for customers in rural areas. The most popular payment method in Vietnam is cash on delivery, which accounts for 91% of purchases made online. Alternative payment methods include bank transfers, payment cards, e-wallets or scratch cards. Mobile World was the leading internet retailer in 2017 due to specialising in electronics and appliances distribution. Retail marketing in Vietnam is fragmented, leading marketplaces such as Lazada and Robins to become popular among small businesses looking to sell online. Some of the most popular e-commerce websites in Vietnam include shopee.vn, sendo.vn, chotot.com, lazada.vn and dienmay.com.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
The principle means of transportation of goods are lorry, train, boat and plane.
Ports
Ben Nghe Port
Cam Ranh Port
Hai Phong
Airports
Noi Bai International Airport
Sea Transport Organisations
Vietnam Seaports Association
Air Transport Organisations
Southern Airport Corporation
Road Transport Organisations
Vietnam Road Administration
Rail Transport Organisations
Vietnam Railways

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Industry contributes to about 40% of the Vietnamese GDP. Vietnam has a competitive advantage regarding labour costs, and natural resources. The main sectors of productions are: Rice, Food processing, Garment and Textile, Crude Oil, Cigarettes and Tobacco, Chemicals and Electrical goods. As a result of several land reform measures, Vietnam is now the largest producer of cashew nuts with the-third of global market share and second largest rice exporter in the world after Thailand. Vietnam has the highest percent of land use for permanent crops, 6.93%, of any nation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Besides rice, key exports are coffee, tea, rubber, and fishery products.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
ASEM Connect - Website managed by the Vietnam Industry and Trade Information Center
Company List - Directory of companies in Vietnam
Expat.com - Vietnam business directory
Vietnam Yello - Vietnam business directory
Vietnam Yello - Vietnam business directory
Yellow Pages - Vietnam's Yellow Pages
Zipleaf - Business directory for several countries in the world
 

To search directories by industry in Vietnam, check out our service Business Directories.

 
Professional Associations by Sector
25 professional associations listed for Vietnam.
 
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry
General Professional Associations
The Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (VINASME)
 
 

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Latest Update: November 2022