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US Holds Potential For Vietnamese Wood Products

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam : Vietnam has opportunities to expand exports of wood products this year, especially to the US market, delegates said at a conference on March 12, reported Vietnam News Summary. Despite global economic difficulties, the wood processing industry has enjoyed an average growth of 15 per cent over the past seven years (2008-14), said Huynh Van Hanh, Deputy Chairman of the Handicrafts and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA). Last year the country earned US$6.2 billion from the export of wood and wooden products, a year-on-year increase of 11.5 per cent, Hanh told participants at a conference on Export to the US Market: Opportunities and Challenges.

The US was the biggest import market for Vietnamese wooden products, accounting for 35.6 per cent of the total export revenue, followed by China (15.36 per cent), Japan (13.9 per cent) and the EU.

Hanh said exports to the US market increased strongly in recent years from US$1.39 billion in 2010 to $2.23 billion last year, with bedroom, kitchen, and office furniture being among key export items.

The recovery of the US economy has increased consumption of furniture products in the market, said Tran Quoc Manh, HAWA’s executive board member and chairman of Saigon Trade and Production Development Corp. The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will open up export opportunities for Vietnamese firms to the market, including those in the wood industry, he said.

Hanh said last year China’s wood products exported to the US declined significantly because the US imposed high anti-dumping duties on Chinese wood products, opening up opportunities for Viet Nam to increase exports to the market.

Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of wood products to the US, but it accounts for a small share compared to China, the largest exporter of wood products to the market, meaning there is still room for Vietnamese firms to boost exports to the market. Vietnam’s furniture export value currently accounts for just 2.68 per cent of the total figure of 70 furniture exporting countries.

Wood and wood products exports are expected to grow by at least 15 per cent this year, reaching at least $7.2 billion, Hanh said, adding that export revenue was US$1.049 billion in the first two months of the year, up 14 per cent over the same period last year.