Việt Nam's wood exports decrease as inflation increases

July 12, 2022 - 06:55
Việt Nam's exports of timber and wood products have decreased due to the impact of high inflation in the export market.

Việt Nam's export value of timber and wood products in June fell by 4.9 per cent annually to US$1.5 billion. Photo

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam's exports of timber and wood products have decreased due to the impact of high inflation in the export market, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

According to the General Department of Customs, Việt Nam's export value of timber and wood products in June fell by 4.9 per cent on-year to US$1.5 billion. Timber exports in June were estimated at more than $1.03 billion, down 18.1 per cent.

In the first six months, the export value of timber and wood products surged by 2.8 per cent on-year to $8.5 billion. But the export value of wood products plunged by 4.6 per cent on-year to $6 billion.

Wooden furniture was the key export item in the structure of export timber and wood products in the first five months of this year. However, the export value decreased due to slowing global demand

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the zero COVID policy in China and the high input costs due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused many countries to face high inflation, so consumers must tighten their spending to decrease demand for non-essential goods like wood products.

Those factors made Việt Nam's export value of timber and wood products plunge in the first half of this year.

Nguyễn Liêm, chairman of the Bình Dương Furniture Association (BIFA) and general director of Lâm Việt Joint Stock Company, said that rising inflation has made consumers in export markets such as the US and EU spend on essential items first. So, his company has faced reducing orders from some partners.

In addition, the lower wood export turnover in the first half was also due to very high logistics costs. Even the value of wooden products in the containers exported to the US market is much lower than the shipping cost. For example, in some US ports, the freight of one container is now around $20,000. Meanwhile, the value of wood products in this container is about $13,000-15,000.

High shipping costs lead to a tendency to move orders to neighbouring countries like Mexico to take advantage of geographical distance.

Nguyễn Chánh Phương, vice chairman of the HCM City Fine Arts and Woodworking Association (HAWA), said the US market accounts for 60 per cent of the export value of Việt Nam's timber and wood products. Việt Nam's wooden furniture exports to the US market are mainly cheap products.

High US inflation has caused low- and middle-income groups to tighten their spending, creating a significant impact on Việt Nam's wood product exports, he said.

The local wood industry's enterprises have begun to have signs of a lack of orders from the US market, while some other big markets, such as the EU and South Korea, have also started showing difficulties due to inflation.

The lower export turnover of timber and wood products in the first half of 2022 has worried the wood industry, particularly regarding the export growth target this year.

Nguyễn Liêm said that the wood industry was now one of the goods items gaining high export growth. However, the export growth rate has been lower than the figures in the previous years.

This year's timber and wood product export turnover growth is forecasted only to reach 5-7 per cent. It will be challenging to get 19 per cent growth in 2021, Liêm said.

That situation is partly due to the 20 to 60 per cent higher price of input materials over the same period last year. This reduces enterprise competitiveness even with technical improvements to increase labour productivity, he said.

He added that the room for export growth was not large unless there was a breakthrough such as digitisation, automation, or more use of domestic wood.

Experts are currently cautious in forecasting the growth of export timber and wood products this year.

In the context of high inflation that has not shown any signs of cooling globally, businesses are also reviewing orders to achieve the most efficiency in production and business and keep their client.

In addition, Đỗ Xuân Lập, chairman of the Việt Nam Timber and Forest Products Association, said a problem for the wood industry today was that Việt Nam needed to develop a large, high-quality domestic wood raw material source to maintain its competitive advantage.

Nguyễn Quốc Trị, director of the General Department of Forestry, said the department would coordinate with associations in the wood industry to solve the problem in raw materials. — VNS