Based on optimistic forecasts about the situation of the global economy, especially the thriving of large markets such as the US, the EU and Japan, Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) Vice President Le Tien Truong predicted that the Vietnamese textile and garment sector would have a bright future in 2014. Report by the Vietnam Economic News.

* What are your views on the results of the Vietnamese textile and garment sector in 2013?
2013 could be said to be a successful year for the Vietnamese textile and garment sector. The export value of the sector reached over 20.02 billion USD. The export value of textiles and garments reached over 17.89 billion USD, up 18.6 percent compared with 2012; yarn and fiber more than 2.13 billion USD, up 15.7 percent (these are two major groups of export products of the sector). The export value of VITAS member businesses totaled over 2.91 billion USD, a rise of 11.2 percent compared with 2012.

In 2013, the domestic textile and garment sector spent over 14.88 billion USD on material imports. So it had a trade surplus of nearly 5.14 billion USD.

Domestic sales of textiles and garments in 2013 grew 12 percent compared with 2012 (in previous years, the growth was 18-20 percent). Price increases contributed just about 6 percent to the growth of the domestic sales of textiles and garments, so the growth was attributed also to a rise in the sale volume.

* What were the main reasons of the impressive export growth of the Vietnamese textile and garment sector in 2013?

Its good ability to forecast market changes has been an important factor helping the Vietnamese textile and garment sector thrive. Thanks to exact forecasts, textile and garment businesses had worked out suitable production plans and caught new opportunities to promote sales when international cooperation showed good signals and global supply chains were shifted towards Vietnam. As a result, the export value of the entire sector, especially exports to major markets, increased. In 2013, Vietnam's textile and garment exports to the US grew nearly 13 percent while the US import value of these products increased by a mere nearly 3 percent; those to Japan grew about 13 percent while Japan’s imports did not increase; exports to the Republic of Korea (RoK) grew nearly 30 percent.

* What do you think of the market as well as the export growth of the Vietnamese textile and garment sector in 2014?

Large, reputable organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have forecast that the global economy would achieve a growth rate of 3.6 percent in 2014 and the overall situation would be brighter. The US is forecast to achieve a higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth compared with 2013; the EU economy is expected to escape crisis and regain its growth; and Japan and the RoK are predicted to maintain the growth rates they achieved in 2013. Based on these forecasts, it is hoped that in 2014 the Vietnamese textile and garment sector would achieve an export growth rate of about 12 percent even if Vietnam is yet to join international trade agreements which create favorable conditions for the sector to boost exports.

* Currently, 60 percent of Vietnamese textile and garment exports go to markets which are members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). What about exports to other markets? Do you think exports to these markets will bring in unexpected results in 2014?

Apart from markets which are TPP members, the EU and the RoK have been two major export markets for Vietnamese textiles and garments (17 percent of Vietnamese textile and garment exports go to the EU and about 7 percent to the RoK). Thanks to active measures, Vietnamese textile and garment exports to the RoK almost tripled within just three years, from 500 million USD in 2010 to 1.3 billion USD in 2013. There are lots of opportunities for Vietnamese textiles and garments to increase their share in the EU market because the EU keeps expanding (when Vietnam began to export to the EU, the bloc consisted of 15 members, but now it has 27 members). Every year, the EU imports more than 250 billion USD worth of textiles and garments. Meanwhile, Vietnam exports to the EU a mere 2.4-2.5 billion USD worth of these products. Obviously, the market share of Vietnamese textiles and garments in the EU remains very small. Therefore, boosting exports to the EU is a goal for not only 2014 but also ensuing years. We are also interested in two other markets, India and the Middle East.

* What measures will the textile and garment sector take to expand its share in foreign markets and achieve the export target set for 2014?

We have proposed measures which would help textile and garment businesses promote exports in not only 2014 but also many ensuing years. The textile and garment sector must continue to pay great attention to four important factors: quality, prices, supply velocity and the ability to deal with problems related to after-sales services. Based on these factors, buyers measure the reliability of producers. Therefore, to maintain its competitiveness, the textile and garment sector must improve itself in terms of these four factors - this also is what it must do to fulfill the export tasks of 2014.-VNA