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DomesticMore opportunities for exporters to the US businesses must therefore enhance their capacity to exploit the market to best advantage.

According to HIS Global Insight, a world-leading economic forecasting company, the US’s import demand will increase slightly from US$2,312 billion in 2012 to US$2,334 billion in 2013.

Alibaba.com—a business-to-business (B2B) trading floor—says that despite a recent slump, the US still tops the list of orders for products from Vietnam, accounting for 10 percent of the country’s total export earnings compared to 12 percent in 2011.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs claims that during the first three quarters of 2012, Vietnam earned US$16.56 billion from exports to the US, up 14.83 percent on the same period last year. Textile and garment products were the top earner (US$5.6 billion), followed by footwear products (US$1.65 billion), and wood and timber products (US$1.29 billion).

Vietnam imported goods worth US$3.6 billion from the US over the same period.

The market expected to pick up

The Ministry of Industry and Trade predicts that Vietnam can achieve its yearly target of US$20 billion in export earnings as the world demand tends to be increasing in the closing months of 2012.

Economists say the US market will be more stable in 2013 on the back of a modest economic recovery.

Judging from price adjustments caused by a decline in the world demand, the US Department of Agriculture expects agricultural product imports will increase from the current level of US$106.5 billion to US$117 billion by August 2013.

Timothy Leung, Channel Sales Director at Alibaba.com, says US enterprises are increasingly seeking goods supplies from regions offering cheaper prices— including Southeast Asia.

He stresses that Vietnamese businesses should be prepared to penetrate and exploit the demanding US market to full advantage.

In addition to their competitive prices, they should focus on meeting strict customer requirements and improving sales and marketing methods.

New regulations

Under the provisions of the Food Safety Modernisation Act of 2011 (FSMA) as of October 1 2012, foreign food exporters to the United States must register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a registration number. Re-registration must be completed between October 1 and December 31 in even-numbered years. Those that do not go through the re-registration process will be cancelled and/or declared void by the FDA as of January 1 2013.

In addition, the FDA also requires foreign food exporters to have representatives serving as their mandatory US Agent, who will be responsible for answering any FDA questions within 24 hours.

These new regulations mean they will be subject to more non-tariff barriers.

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