The export of wood and wood products is expected to fetch US$8 billion this year, up from US$7.3 billion last year.
Huynh Van Hanh, deputy chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (Hawa), said global demand for furniture will continue to increase, so the domestic industry can look forward to doing better.
According to preliminary statistics compiled by the Centre for Industrial Studies (CSIL), global furniture consumption is worth more than US$460 billion a year. Supply from Vietnam accounts for just 1.65% of this figure, which means there is considerable room for Vietnamese firms to increase their market share.
China is the world’s largest supplier of wooden products, accounting for 37% of the world’s total consumption.
But the Chinese Government cut its overall timber harvesting quotas by nine per cent, equal to 40 million cubic metres of timber, opening up more opportunities for Vietnamese firms to boost their exports, Hanh said.
In addition, a series of free trade agreements that the country has signed will offer greater export opportunities for domestic firms, he added.
Nguyen Chien Thang, former Hawa chairman and director of Scansia Pacific, said all Hawa members enjoyed good growth last year, with more and more foreign buyers coming to place orders.
They have invested significantly in technologies to improve product quality and management, and this has increasingly gained customers’ trust, he said.
“Previously, large customers, especially those from the US, had mainly bought products from Taiwanese companies investing in Vietnam, but now more and more US customers are contacting Vietnamese producers.
“This is a good sign,” he said.
Anticipating a good year for exports, many firms in Binh Duong and Dong Nai invested in new facilities last year to expand production scale, Thang said, adding that his company is also building a new workshop.
Cao Duy Tam, director of Vi Dai Co., Ltd, which specialises in supplying machinery, equipment and solutions for the wood processing industry, said sales increased by 50% last year and is expected to be higher this year.
Many businesses have invested in new technologies to improve their productivity and quality, solving the problem of labour shortage and getting ready to receive larger export orders, he said.
They have invested in automatic, high speed machines and even CNC (computer numeric control) machines, he added.
Hanh said Vietnamese firms in the past years have accumulated valuable experiences in production, management and market access.
In the coming time, the industry needs to access market at a national scale so that foreign customers know “Vietnam is a nation producing wooden products from legal timber sources,” he said.
To further help Vietnamese firms market their products and explore business opportunities, the association has collaborated with the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade and Hawa Corporation to organise the Vietnam International Furniture and Home Accessories Fair 2017 (VIFA-EXPO 2017) in HCM City from March 8-11.
It has attracted 313 domestic and foreign exhibitors who will set up 1,532 booths, a corresponding increase of 23% and 24% from last year, Hạnh said.
“The increase reflects the strong demand from wooden product manufacturers for trade promotion to boost exports,” Hạnh said.
This year the number of foreign firms registering to join the fair has gone up by 72% over last year, with 100 brands from 14 countries and territories including Singapore, Taiwan, the US, Australia, Canada, China and Italy.
The fair will display a wide range of export-oriented indoor and outdoor furniture, handicrafts, and interior furnishing and accessories.
Hanh said 1,850 visitors from 94 countries and territories had registered as of February 28 to visit the fair.
Held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7, the fair will also feature an awards ceremony for the Hoa Mai Prize, a furniture design competition, and a seminar on wood glue quality.VNS