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Exporting to the Middle East: Opportunities and Challenges for Vietnamese

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

I. Overview of the Middle East:

1.1 Geographical location:

  • The Middle East is a region in southwest Asia, bordering Europe and Africa. This region includes countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Situated at the crossroads of international trade routes, the Middle East is a convergence of diverse cultures, religions, and languages.

1.2 Population and economic situation:

  • With a population of over 430 million people, the Middle East is one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is also one of the largest economic centers globally, with countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar having high incomes and developed infrastructure systems.

II. Products exported to the Middle East:

2.1 Food and agricultural products:

  • The Middle East is a large consumer market for food and agricultural products. Typical products such as seafood, rice, pepper, cashews, coffee, vegetables, and fruits are highly favored and imported in large quantities in this region. Ensuring food quality and safety is a fundamental requirement when exporting to the Middle East.

Cashew, rice, dragon fruit
Food and agricultural products

2.2 Industrial products:

  • The Middle East is also a market for high-quality industrial products. Products such as mobile phones, tablets, electronic components, medical products, and petroleum products have export potential to this region.

Industrial product

III. Opportunities in exporting to the Middle East:

  • Vietnam has established longstanding diplomatic relations and cooperation with Middle Eastern countries, with a comprehensive legal framework that provides favorable conditions for development and enhanced cooperation.

  • The Middle East has a large consumer demand and high payment capacity due to its abundant financial resources.

  • The agriculture sector in this region is still underdeveloped due to harsh natural conditions and difficulties in industrial production. Therefore, this region still needs to import many products, especially food and consumer goods. The export-import structure of the region is compatible with Vietnam's main export items, and the import duties of many countries in the Middle East are lower compared to other countries. Therefore, the Middle East is a potential market with many opportunities for Vietnamese export businesses.

IV. Challenges and solutions in exporting to the Middle East

4.1 Challenges:

  • Religious culture: The Middle East is a region with different cultures and religions compared to Vietnam, with Islam being the predominant religion in Middle Eastern countries. Therefore, businesses need to study culture and religion to ensure that their products are suitable for the local market's preferences.

  • Competition with major players: The Middle Eastern market is highly competitive and has the presence of large companies from all around the world. Major competitors may include India, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Brazil, and Sri Lanka. Therefore, Vietnamese businesses need to develop better competitive strategies and find ways to create unique products and services.

  • Certification barriers: To export to this market, businesses need to obtain certification for standards, quality inspection, labeling, etc., issued by the Gulf Standardization Organization. Halal certification is required for food and seafood products.

  • Extreme Weather Conditions: With the hot and arid climate of the region, transportation of goods can be affected by challenging factors such as temperature and humidity differences. Therefore, businesses need to come up with solutions to ensure the safety and quality of the goods.

4.2. Solution

  • Research and update market information: To understand the export market to the Middle East, you can refer to market reports and documents, search for information on websites of trade organizations, associations, embassies, and businesses operating in this market. Additionally, you can connect with local importers and business partners to obtain more specific and accurate information.

  • Ensure food quality and safety: The Middle East has strict regulations on quality control and food safety. Therefore, businesses need to ensure that their products meet the stringent standards of this region.

  • Halal certification is the key to entering the Middle Eastern market. Halal is an Arabic term meaning "permissible" or "lawful to use." This term is commonly used in the lives of Muslims to describe the foods, beverages, or products they are allowed to use. Halal-certified products are those that Muslims are allowed to consume. To learn more about Halal certification, businesses can contact HCA Vietnam - a reputable certification body for Halal certification in Vietnam or visit the website ****

H Cargo Logistics is a unit with extensive experience in consulting customs procedures and transporting agricultural products for export to the Middle East market. We are knowledgeable about the market and the difficulties that businesses may face. If your business is in need of advice on exporting to this market, please contact us for a completely free consultation.

Hotline: +84 377 080 567 ( Mr. Thien)


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