Việt Nam wood products exports increase by 6 per cent despite pandemic

Update: June, 01/2020 - 08:39


Việt Nam hopes to achieve US$12 billion worth of timber, wood products and furniture exports this year. — VNS Photo Văn Châu

HCM CITY — Exports of wood and wood products in the first four months of the year were worth nearly US$3.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 6 per cent, according to the General Department of Customs.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the wooden processing industry, thanks to Việt Nam’s effective control of the outbreak and competitors in Southeast Asia, the EU and the US having to stop production, businesses have found new markets, Lê Minh Thiện, chairman of the Bình Định [Province] Timber and Forest Products Association, said.

Besides, an improvement in the country’s business and investment environment has helped boost the industry’s manufacturing and export activities, he said.

Đỗ Xuân Lập, chairman of the Việt Nam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFORES), said thanks to its efficient pandemic control, Việt Nam has become an attractive investment destination for many wood processing companies with turnover in the billions of dollars.

Việt Nam expects the wood processing industry’s exports to top $12.5 billion this year, up 10 per cent from last year, according to VIFORES.

Of this, $8.68 billion will come from timber exports and $2.99 billion from wood products exports, with other forest products accounting for the rest. 

So far this year exports to the US have seen a sharp rise, while there has been robust growth in shipments to Japan, the UK, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s department of import-export said.

With Japan and Canada also being members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), it said Vietnamese firms are starting to take advantage of the reduced tariffs under the trade deal to penetrate these markets.

With the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) set to take effect this year, Vietnamese firms can also look forward to similar tariff cuts by and increased exports to the EU, already one of Việt Nam’s major markets.

The country’s top 10 markets are the US, Japan, China, South Korea, the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, France, and the Netherlands.

Việt Nam mainly exports dressing tables and kitchens and bathroom furniture to the US and EU. Exports of outdoor and office furniture account for only 40 per cent of the total, and so there is great potential to increase them in future, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn said.

The industry must restructure the whole production chain, from varieties of trees to promoting sustainable forest management, and implement its commitments under the EU-Việt Nam Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA-FLEGT) to ensure its exports of timber and wooden products come from legal sources, he said.

Design and branding are thus important factors in improving the competitiveness of Việt Nam’s furniture and other wooden products, he added.

Wooden and furniture products are mainly produced in southern and central provinces like Bình Dương, Đồng Nai, Long An, Tây Ninh, and Bình Định. — VNS