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Guide To Import Vietnamese Craft Products Into France And Rest Of Europe

Apr 26, 2022 | Link Ha

This Blog covers some of the most interesting aspects of handmade products in Vietnam. The heritage crafts of Vietnam include wooden furniture, porcelains, lacquers, embroidery, candles, jewels, artificial flowers, and glass products.

Vietnam is considered a land of handicrafts, which has witnessed successive periods of conflict, the return of peace, and the rebirth of ancient traditions. Stability and the integration of Vietnamese arts and crafts industries into the world markets are now bringing about an even greater diversification and enrichment of such crafts within the nation itself. Vietnam’s handicraft products include five groups such as bags, purses, suitcases, hats, and umbrellas; toys, sports equipment, and parts; ceramics; rattan, bamboo, sedge products; and art wood products. 

                                                                Photo: NGUYỄN TẤN TUẤN

To the people of Vietnam, arts and handicrafts have always had a profound historical and social significance and continue to play a major role in every aspect of their material and spiritual lives today. The tree's body is often treated as a valuable material to build houses and make household equipment such as tables, chairs, bookshelves, or agricultural tools such as shovels, hoes, or plows. It has also become material for interior decorations such as lamps, plates, chopsticks, and other souvenirs. In addition, the bamboo tree has nutritional value as bamboo shoots are commonly found in Vietnamese kitchens.

Vietnam's one-of-a-kind and environmentally sustainable handicraft items have made a strong impression on foreign buyers. From an economic point of view, handicrafts are identified as one of the product groups with great export potential and a high-profit margin that Vietnam needs to boost in the future. In particular, they highly value bamboo-based handicrafts. 

            The craft villages Rattan: Phú Vinh ; Bamboo: Ðồi Ba, Yên Kiên and Phù Yên ;Photo:

According to the statista, in 2020, the merchandise export price index for rattan, bamboo, and rush products in Vietnam amounted to approximately 114.61 index points. The country's merchandise export price index was at 117.23 points in that year.  

The important facts about importing from Vietnam to the EU

Vietnam is the 17th largest exporter of goods in the European Union. It is the 2nd largest exporter to the EU from the ASEAN block.

EU investors invest between €5-10B a year in Vietnamese manufacturing by opening branches or collaborating with Vietnamese manufacturers.

EU tariffs are some of the world's lowest, and the EU lowered tariffs on Vietnamese goods to 0% for many popular products such as electronics.

The EU market will remove almost all taxes on Vietnamese goods within five years (except local VAT taxes).

The EU market relies a lot on developing countries to import goods such as textiles and electronics.

The EU is a great export destination for all Vietnamese manufacturers looking to export raw materials and intermediary goods to help manufacture in Europe. 

                        Merchandise export price index for rattan, bamboo, and rush products in Vietnam from 2014 to 2020

How to import into the EU from Vietnam? These guidelines will help you get started.

Four steps to import products into France and the EU

Step 1: Find a supplier.

  • Assess a market where the local government can cultivate a supportive environment that favors local artisans and manufacturers
  • Find businesses and compare the competitiveness of potential suppliers (e.g., price comparison, including import-related costs such as tariffs and transport costs).
  • Identify business partners/suppliers.
  • Identify an agency/institution/partner to support the formalities of the import processes (e.g., to prepare contracts, payment terms, supplier creditworthiness).

Step 2: Assess import conditions and duties and ensure the product complies with EU requirements

  • Obtain an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number.
  • Check that no import restriction is applied.
  • Check if the EU has a trade agreement with the country you want to import 
  • Assess if your product complies with the applicable rules of origin and identify the applicable duty rate.
  • Determine if other duties (e.g., trade defense) or internal taxes apply.
  • Identify health, safety, environmental and technical requirements in the EU.
  • Ensure that the product complies with the requirements and that the supplier can provide the necessary certification.
  • Check EU packaging and labeling rules.
  • Determine whether a certificate of origin is required, which the exporter must provide, and what type of certificate must be presented, depending on whether or not there is an applicable trade agreement or trade arrangement between the EU and the country of origin of the goods.

Step 3: Prepare the sale and arrange transportation.

  • Prepare and sign the contract with the supplier, including an agreement on who is responsible for what, and organize the transport process.
  • Coordinate with potential institutions supporting the process.

Step 4: Prepare documents for border clearance

  • Contact a customs representative for advice if in doubt
  • Guarantee the availability of the entry summary declaration
  • Prepare the below documents for import clearance:

Shipping Methods

Maritime transport

Sea freight is the most popular choice for shipping heavy loads from such distant countries. You can search for direct connections between Vietnam and France or ship indirectly through one of Europe’s biggest harbors. Within the European Union, Rotterdam and Antwerp are the busiest port areas. Transit time from Vietnam to Europe is 27-33 days. 

Another option is air freight. It is the fastest but at the same time the most expensive variant. There is a wide range of carriers operating flights from Vietnam. The leading Vietnamese international airports are Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Noi Bai International Airport, and Da Nang International Airport. Besides, if you ship to a smaller country in Europe, it might be necessary to trans-ship in one of Europe's biggest airports, e.g., in Frankfurt, Paris, or Amsterdam.

                Shipping via sea is the most popular form of shipping from Vietnam

Rail transport

As regards rail freight, it is a relatively good alternative, although the whole logistical process might be more complicated. So far, there is no direct cargo rail service between Vietnam and Europe. 

Shipping Costs From Vietnam To The EU

The average cost of shipping from Vietnam to the European Union varies by the shipping mode, the size of the shipment, and the season. The Coronavirus pandemic dramatically increased the average shipping cost, fluctuating from 10,000-to 19,000 USD in 2021. 

The shipping options are either by ocean freight (25-35 days) or air freight (3-5 days). Shipping by rail is possible but logistically complex and not profitable. Shipping costs can increase in peak seasons: October, November, and December. This is when the shopping season is in full swing and the demand for goods increases.

Payment Methods

Cash In Advance

Cash In Advance is a payment method requiring importers to pay fully before the shipment is received. In Vietnam and other Asian countries, exporters commonly ask to use Telegraphic Transfer as an option to pay in Advance. Telegraphic Transfer, abbreviated to TT, transfers funds from the importer's bank account to the exporter's one electronically. The fee could be charged by the sending bank or receiving bank.

While buyers are unwilling to agree on this method, it is the most desired one by exporters. It is mostly because the sellers could avoid all the risk of default. An example is that when there are problems with orders or damages to the shipment, the sellers already have cash in hand, and they do not have to worry whether buyers will pay for the goods. Besides, the buyers cannot afford it before the shipment in some cases. For these reasons, importers, in contrast, do not favor this term as much as the sellers do.

Open Account 

In contrast to Cash In Advance, an Open Account transaction is a sale where the goods are shipped directly to the importers who have agreed to pay for the invoice on a specified day (30, 60, or 90 days after the shipment). It is, therefore, the most practical term for the importers while it is the highest risk term for exporters. 

Despite the disadvantages of this term, it has upsides that the exporters could consider. In particular, since this is an advantageous term for buyers, exporters can offer this term to win more customers in the current intense competition, which will help maximize sales and boost business growth. 

Although this method's potential, only offering this term to businesses that you completely trust is highly recommended. Besides, using protection like export credit insurance can somehow help you mitigate the risk of commercial losses.

Letter of Credit

Both Cash In Advance and Open Account cannot satisfy the expectations of exporters since one type that benefits the exporters will not be a favorable one for importers and vice versa. It, therefore, leads to the establishment of other payment methods that can help mitigate risks for both sides. Letter of Credit is one of them, though it's relatively complicated.

Letters of Credit ensure that payment will be made by the buyer's bank to the seller as soon as it receives the documents proving all of the terms and conditions expressed in LC have been qualified. This method benefits the seller when the foreign buyer with credit information is hard to obtain works with a creditworthy bank, ensuring the payment has to be made. In the meantime, an LC also protects the importers as they do not have to pay until the goods are shipped as promised. Though this paying method gives both buyers and sellers advantages, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and hard to manage the whole process. 

Documentary Collections

Documentary Collection, abbreviated to D/C, is a transaction in which the seller (exporter) delegates the collection of payment to the bank (remitting bank), which also has the responsibility to forward the shipping documents to the buyer's bank, with instructions to release the documents to the buyer and claim for payment. To clear the goods through customs, the buyer must present shipping documents, which can only be received when the exporter gets the amount.

Document against payment means the payment has to be made immediately when the buyer has presented the sight draft. 

Document against acceptance, on the other hand, does not require the buyer to pay immediately but to provide a specified date for payment. This type gives the importer a short time to pay the exporter after receiving goods.

Documentary collection mitigates risks of international trade for both sides. For exporters, only when payment or acceptance has been obtained the possession of documents is handed over, which means that the exporter retains the title of goods until buyers have made payment. Importers have to make payments only after goods are shipped. Besides, this term is less expensive and complicated than its alternative, Letter of Credit.

Popular Financial Systems Used For Paying Vietnamese Suppliers

After considering four must-know payment methods used in Vietnam, finding suitable services to pay Vietnamese suppliers, there are several services that foreign importers can use to make payments for Vietnamese sellers, including Western Union, MoneyGram, Transferwise, and PayPal.

All in all, France and the EU are valuable markets for business in the handicrafts segment. Therefore, many exporters worldwide want to export their products to the EU to meet the large consumer demand. Sometimes, however, exporters feel that they lack information on how to ship to the EU and meet EU norms. Yet this post explains about different phases in the import process that every importer needs to go through!

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