HCM CITY — After significant export growth of 33.3 per cent in 2011, Viet Nam is expecting this year to attain further growth for its major products, including textiles and garments, leather and footwear, wood products and seafood.
According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Thanh Bien, the country's total export turnover is expected to increase by 13 per cent, from a total of US$96 billion in 2011 to $108.8 billion this year. However, challenges remain in the export sector.
The country's textile and garment sector attained an export turnover of over $14 billion in 2011, enjoying a trade surplus of $6.5 billion.
Le Tien Truong, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Textile and Garment Association and deputy general director of Viet Nam Textile Corp (Vinatex), explained that the healthy market forecasts and the confidence gained from customers were the main reasons behind the high export growth of textiles and garments last year.
However, to reach $15 billion export turnover for 2012 would not be an easy task for the country's textile and garment sector, as global economic woes would still plague major markets such as the US, EU and Japan.
In addition, production costs, including prices of electricity, water, fuel, workers' salaries and bank loan interest, would be all on the rise. To maintain its leading position, textile and garment enterprises must choose markets and products carefully and become strategic partners with major material suppliers.
With an export turnover of $6.5 billion last year, the leather and footwear sector ranks third on the list of the country's top 10 exports.
According to the Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), the added value gained by the sector was more than 55 per cent of last year's export turnover, a year-on-year increase of at least 5 per cent.
Diep Thanh Kiet, deputy chairman of Lefaso, said a reduction in orders from European customers (due to global economic woes) remained the biggest concerns of local textile and garment exporters.
That was the reason why Lefaso had set out an export target of $7 billion for 2012. Kiet said, at the same time, local exporters had also refused low-priced contracts to avoid inconveniences caused by anti-dumping lawsuits.
"However, I believe that local textile and garment enterprises can cope with difficulties in 2012 if they make wise decisions in choosing markets and specific products for them," Kiet told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Viet Nam Seafood Processors and Exporters and Processors (VASEP), said 2011 was a very sucessful year for the country's seafood sector as it attained high export growth at a time when seafood enterprises faced difficulties.
Hoe said last year seafood enterprises had succesfully coped with challenges by attaining a total export turnover of more than $6 billion, far exceeding the $5.7 billion goal set in early 2011.
Le Van Quang, general director of Minh Phu Seafood JSC and deputy chairman of VASEP, said there were opportunities for the seafood sector to reach the target of $6.3-$6.5 billion export turnover set by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for 2012.
"It's not a very difficult goal to reach, provided that seafood companies maintain the volume of goods to be exported to traditional markets such as the EU, the US and Japan, and establish new markets, including Russia and China," said Quang.
Viet Nam earned more than $3.6 billion for over 7 million tonnes of rice exported in 2011. According to the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA), 2011 was a robust year for the country's agriculture as local farmers reaped bumper crops while rice prices soared in the market.
The VFA said Viet Nam rice faced harsh competition from Indian and Pakistani rice. To make Vietnamese rice more competitive, on December 21, the VFA lowered the rice price with a floor price of 5 per cent broken rice at $500 per tonne, nearly $100 per tonne lower than that of the same rice sold in early November last year.
In December, the VFA affirmed that in following years Viet Nam would not focus on increasing volumes of export rice, but concentrate its efforts on producing high-quality rice to get higher prices of export rice. Thus, Viet Nam will maintain its volume of export rice at 6 to 7 million tonnes per year.
Despite a total export turnover of $3.9 billion in 2011, Vietnamese wood processors are worried about the difficulties facing Vietnamese wood products in EU markets and the possibility of facing anti-dumping lawsuits in the US, according to Tran Quoc Manh, deputy chairman of HCM City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association (HAWA). However, the local wood industry still had great potential for development if local wood processors could conquer new emerging markets such as South Korea, Japan and China.
To reduce import of materials, Manh said local enterprises should use more local materials, especially cajeputs, which are cultivated in vast areas across the country. — VNS