Many pottery and ceramic producers in southern Dong Nai province have stopped operating or reduced output because of a lack of export orders and high production costs.

The Thai Duong Ceramics Cooperative in Bien Hoa city, one of the largest pottery producers in Dong Nai, for example, has cut one-third of its production compared to the end of last year.

Bui Thi Kim Nguyen, deputy chairwoman of the cooperative, said fewer export orders and high input material costs are the reasons for the reduced level of production.

Even when it receives export orders, the company declines because of rising gas prices, Nguyen said.

"Gas costs account for up to 45 percent of production costs. If there is no careful calculation, production will face heavy losses," she said.

Ceramic producers expect few profits but hope to break even financially so they can continue to employ their staff.

Most small-sized pottery producers have stopped operating, according to the Dong Nai Art Pottery Association.

Up to 70 per cent of pottery and ceramics producers have no work for employees because of a drop in export orders, according to the association.

For the last few months of 2011, Phong Son Pottery Pte, which specialises in producing many kinds of pottery and ceramics for home and garden decoration, exported about three containers to the EU and US a month.

But in the first quarter of this year, it shipped only three containers, and in April, none.

Nguyen Viet Binh, chairman of the association, said the ceramics sector has recovered last year as pottery producers has received more export contacts than in previous years.

But since the middle of the first quarter of this year, the number of export orders dropped dramatically.

"I have never seen the pottery and ceramics sector facing such difficulty," he said.

Problems are expected to continue to the end of the third quarter of this year.

However, the economy of the EU and US is predicted to be better in the fourth quarter.

Most pottery and ceramics producers in Dong Nai province, one of the country's leading provinces in pottery and ceramics exports, are located in Bien Hoa city.

Of the 30 pottery and ceramics producers in Bien Hoa, 25 are small-sized companies.-VNA