Vietnam’s exports face many difficulties ahead despite strong growth in the first quarter as prices of input materials continuously increase, said an online conference in Hanoi on April 5.

Speaking at the conference, which aimed to review the country’s import-export activities in the first quarter of the year and discuss orientations for the remaining quarters, businesses’ representatives said besides high input material prices, repeated power cuts cost them more as they have to run their own electric generators to maintain production.

Tran Quoc Manh, Vice President of the Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Association, suggested building wood material wholesales markets to ease difficulties in the increasing prices of input materials.

Regarding trade promotion, in addition to organising fairs and exhibitions in and outside the country, the businesses should directly bring their products to overseas distribution systems, helping improve the products’ competitiveness in the world market, he said.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Thanh Bien, Vietnam ’s export turnover was estimated to reach 19.25 billion USD in the first quarter of 2011, up 33.7 percent year on year.

Also in the quarter, the country spent 22.2 billion USD on imports, a year-on-year increase of 23 percent./.