Solutions on removing difficulties for forestry processing and export businesses and an orientation for the sector’s sustainable development were highlighted at a forum in Ho Chi Minh City on Feb. 24.

Addressing the forum, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association Nguyen Ton Quyen said that Vietnam still has to import 70 percent of timber, despite the country’s forest coverage being expanded dramatically.

Apart from the exploitation of young timber, timber has been sold out for processing chipboard for export and forest managers have to sell their material to retrieve capital, Quyen said.

He also pointed out that timber processors are facing a shortage of materials, high pay and interest rates and increasing power and petrol prices.

The HCM City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association (HAWA) forecasts the price of export timber will rise only 6 or 7 percent but input costs will rise to 30 percent this year.

Timber exporting businesses affirmed timber exports can record growth of up to 20 percent if input costs are lowered and exchange rates remain stable this year.

To achieve this target, HAWA proposed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development re-plan timber zones and enact incentive policies for farmers. It also proposed the State have an annual quota for chipboard exports and expand the coverage of cajeput and rubber trees to have more materials for processing.

Businesses also discussed issues relating to capital and tax preferential treatment policies./.