HCM CITY — Garment exports have grown at an annual rate of 21.7 per cent in the five years since the country joined the World Trade Organisation, the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association said.
Le Tien Truong, its deputy chairman, said exports, which had been worth only US$5.9 billion in 2006, rose to $15.8 billion last year.
Viet Nam has become the second largest garment exporter to the US, third largest to Japan, and fifth largest to the European Union, he said.
The industry accounts for 15-16 per cent of the country's total exports, he said, and employs 2.5 million workers.
WTO membership enabled many garment companies to find new markets as well as enjoy priorities such as the most favoured nation status, he said.
It had also brought many foreign investors into the Vietnamese garment industry, he said.
In 2007 alone the industry attracted 150 projects with a total investment of $690 million.
In 2007-12 there have been 485 FDI projects worth more than $2 billion.
But there have also been many challenges.
The association said the global recession was having a severe impact on the industry, with prices and orders declining significantly.
Truong said the industry's long-time advantage of cheap human resources has also mostly evaporated.
The industry is under severe pressure and faces a risk of losing even the domestic market, he warned.
To improve things, the association urged the Government to tweak its policies to make them clearer.
The Government also needs to clearly apprise the garment industry about its roadmap for implementing WTO commitments. — VNS