At a Garment production at Thai Nguyen Export Garment Joint Stock Co. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Garment and textile industry exports in the first five months of this year rose 6.1 percent to 8.6 billion USD, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The rise was lower than the targeted growth of 10 percent this year.

In May, the industry earned 1.75 billion USD, up only 3.8 percent.

The United States was the largest export market of the industry, with 3.4 billion USD, up 6 percent. The European Union, Japan and the Republic of Korea followed with 936 million USD, 845.17 million USD and 677.2 million USD, respectively.

Industry insiders are concerned with meeting the industry’s export target of 31 billion USD this year due to falling export prices and difficulties in finding new export contracts, especially for shirts, pants and jackets.

Than Duc Viet, Deputy General Director of the Garment No.10 Corporation, said this year’s business results for local textile and garment exporters, especially among small- and medium-sized firms, were not as good as expected due to rising input costs and falling demand.

Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) Vu Duc Giang said some traditional customers of Vietnam’s garment exporters were moving their orders to Laos and Myanmar, which have preferential tax rates for exports to the United States and European Union.

Currently, the tax imposed on Vietnam’s textile and garment exports to the United States averages 17 percent, while the rate to the European Union is nearly 10 percent. The taxes are expected to drop to zero by mid-2018 when the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement take effect.

Giang said domestic textile and garment exporters will therefore have to compete fiercely against producers from Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Bangladesh.

VITAS said export growth rates among these producers were rising faster than in Vietnam. It offered Cambodia as an example. Vietnam’s textile and garment exports to the European Union were valued at 2.53 billion EUR in 2014 and 3.13 billion EUR in 2015. Meanwhile, the European Union imported textiles and garments worth 2.26 billion EUR in 2014 and 2.97 billion EUR in 2015 from Cambodia.-VNA