Do Xuan Lap, chairman of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VTFPA), said Vietnamese firms had been able to enter and gain footholds in numerous markets around the world, overcoming their shortcomings and limitations.
Exports of wood products to the US have seen a sharp rise this year, as well as robust growth to markets including Japan, the UK, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, said the department of import-export under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
With Japan and Canada partners in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the department said Vietnamese firms were starting to take advantage of the trade deal’s reduced tariffs to penetrate these markets.
As the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is set to take effect in 2020, Vietnamese firms can also look forward to similar tariff cuts and trade advantages from the EU, one of Viet Nam’s major export markets of wood products.
The department has set a target of $12 billion for wood exports in 2020, saying the fast growth of large markets such as the US and the EU are major drivers for the industry.
Nguyen Quoc Khanh, president of HCM City’s handicraft and wood processing business association, said the country’s wood sector, which had maintained a stable growth rate for the last two decades, was gearing up to become a leading player in Southeast Asia.
Khanh said with even more trade deals coming into effect, increased demand for Vietnamese products and large foreign investments flowing into the industry, Viet Nam’s wood exports looked likely to achieve the growth target of 20 per cent next year.
Industry experts said the US would likely remain Viet Nam’s largest export market in 2020. During the last ten months of 2019, Viet Nam’s wood exports to the US hit nearly $4.2 billion, a 34.5 per cent increase from the same period in 2018, and accounting for almost half of the country’s total wood export.
Such rapid growth, however, is not without risks, as Vietnamese firms can expect stricter regulations in the future as US agencies ramp up efforts to counter trade fraud, especially in relation to product origin.
While concrete steps have been taken by the Vietnamese government to prevent foreign goods being falsely labelled as Made-in-Vietnam, trade authorities have warned Vietnamese firms against taking part in fraudulent activities to ensure healthy growth for the industry in the future.
Experts also advised firms to take action as soon as possible to build sustainable value chains, saying they would play a crucial part in the success of the industry. The industry’s value chain, which includes numerous tasks from planting forests, processing and commercialisation of wood products to export must be linked and integrated into firms’ long-term sustainable development strategies.