|Workers at Phuong Thao Co in the central province of Quang Tri produce wooden planks to supply domestic and overseas markets. The country earned US$796 million from wood and timber product exports over the first two months of 2014. — VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam
HA NOI (VNS) — Export value of wood and timber products in the first two months of 2014 increased 8.4 per cent to US$796 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The ministry reported that the United States remained Viet Nam's largest wood and timber product importer, having imported goods worth $186.67 million in the period, about 30 per cent of the total value of Viet Nam's wood and timber product exports.
Major wood and timber products exported to the US market are chairs, fir beds, tables and wardrobes.
China was the second-largest importer of these products, with imports valued at $90.56 million in January, a 60.3 per cent rise compared to the same period last year.
Japan ranked third with imports of $67.76 million, relatively unchanged from the previous year.
Cumulative wood and timber exports were more than $5.37 billion in 2013, a year-over-year increase of 15.2 per cent.
General secretary of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (Vifores) Nguyen Ton Quyen said Viet Nam aimed to export a total $6.2 billion worth of wood and timber products this year, up 9 per cent compared to 2013.
Quyen added that the export outlook for the industry in 2014 was feasible as local exporters have so far signed export contracts valued at more than $3 billion.
Also, the signing of bilateral and multilateral agreements would create more favourable conditions for the industry, he remarked.
He noted that the European Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), expected to be signed this year, would be a good opportunity for Viet Nam.
Viet Nam currently only had access to the markets of Germany, France, Britain and Spain. If Viet Nam could export to the 27 countries in the EU, the scale of the market would become large, Quyen said.
"The selling price in the European market is higher, the market is more stable and Viet Nam's products can be sold directly to local consumers," Quyen said.
However, Quyen added that authorities should change the current regulations to fit the EU's new regulations. Furthermore, awareness of partners among the wood and timber products businesses, such as forest planters, traders, trade villages for VPA and FLEGT, was low, so they found it difficult to access opportunities provided by VPA/FLEGT.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is also being evaluated to unearth hidden opportunities for the export of agriculture, forestry and fishery goods, according to Quyen.
However, he noted that if the TPP was signed in 2014, enterprises must be prepared to adapt, including for many large markets such as the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand as well as Canada.
He explained if the country bought wood outside the TPP block, wood products exported to TPP countries would incur two large risks: high taxes and strict legal supervision.
Viet Nam currently buys wood from almost 40 countries and exports to countries such as the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Canada and to the EU. The tariff rate will be zero if wood is bought from the TPP block. — VNS