EU mission helps open Southeast Asian markets to Lithuanian producers
Three Lithuanian companies were included in the high-level European Union mission to Southeast Asia, where they joined Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski in representing the European business community.
European Commissioner J. Wojciechowski, with his team and approximately fifty business representatives from various EU countries, visited Vietnam and Singapore to analyse these markets and discuss the opportunities for a greater number of imports from the EU with local businessmen and diplomats. Companies from our country operating in the meat, organic agricultural products and beverage production sectors were invited to take part in the high-level 6-day mission.
“We learned about the possibility of joining the EU mission by following the news of the European Commission. We then filled in the applications and won the selection process. Our aim when we travelled to Vietnam and Singapore was to introduce these markets to our activities and Lithuanian products – both those with geographical indications and organic products. Asia places a great value on these European products, as the authenticity of the regional production is indicated and the highest quality standards are established. In particular, we introduced our traditional Lithuanian beverages and ecologically produced vodka to the foreign markets,” said one of the mission participants, Ernesta Varnelienė, Export Sales Manager at MV GROUP Production.
More doors opening to a growing region
A total of over 170 businesses from 24 EU countries expressed their interest to take part in the mission, and over 50 companies from 21 countries passed the selection process. The participants in the EU mission first visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, then travelled to Singapore.
“While we already have partners in Vietnam and our products are available on the shelves of local supermarkets, the mission allowed us to have direct meetings with local businessmen and opened many new doors in the country’s market of more than 97 million people,” said E. Varnelienė. “The Vietnamese economy is growing and developing rapidly, and the population’s income and purchasing power are increasing, making European products more accessible and interesting to them. We selected three of our spirits to introduce in this country and in Singapore. Meanwhile, other members of the EU beverage industry introduced their wines, with most of them choosing to introduce only one product.”
E. Varnelienė noted that Vietnam was also interested in importing European olive oil, dairy and meat products, fruit and vegetables. On the other hand, the Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Le Minh Hoan, and his colleagues from the Ministry of Industry and Trade also had some opportunities to offer, as Vietnam would like to export more rice, tropical fruit and coffee to the EU.
The meetings with local businessmen and diplomats served as an opportunity for European businesses to directly share their experiences and discover potential partners. The EU business community was represented by representatives of both individual companies and associations.
Discussions on opportunities and threats
According to E. Varnelienė, the main aim of the mission was to discover as many directions and opportunities for the development of EU-Vietnam and EU-Singapore free trade agreements as possible, and to create even more favourable conditions for exports of European agricultural food and beverages.
“The diplomatic meetings focused on matters relating to customs, as EU products in Asia are usually rather expensive and the problem of counterfeit production remains largely unsolved. Therefore, any additional taxation on imports carries the threat of a new wave of counterfeit products, consequently expanding the local shadow economy,” explained the Head of Exports at MV GROUP Production.
The participants attending the business forum in Singapore also drew attention to Russia’s war against Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis, which is harming the global food market. According to the European Commissioner J. Wojciechowski, the situation has pushed the EU to step up its cooperation with Asian countries, in order to keep the World Food Programme going and to ensure the security of food supplies in other regions that are heavily dependent on imported raw materials for their food supply.
The mission participant MV GROUP Production manages Stumbras, Alita, Anykščių Vynas and Gubernija factories in Lithuania, which are engaged in producing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.