EXPORTS of wood and wood products are expected to reach $8 billion this year, up from $7.3 billion last year.
Huynh Van Hanh, deputy chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh 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 from the Centre for Industrial Studies, global furniture consumption is worth more than $460 billion a year. Supply from Vietnam accounts for just 1.65 per cent 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 per cent of the world’s consumption.
But the Chinese government cut its overall timber harvesting quotas by 9 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 said.
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,” he said. “This is a good sign.”
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 ViDai, which specialises in supplying machinery, equipment and solutions for the wood-processing industry, said sales increased by 50 per cent last year and are 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 computer numeric control machines, he added.
Hanh said Vietnamese firms in the past years had accumulated valuable experience in production, management and market access. In time, the industry needs to access markets at a national scale so that foreign customers will know “Vietnam is a nation producing wooden products from legal timber sources”, he said.