Vietnamese household-appliance companies are concerned that ASEAN-imported products will dominate the local market, especially in traditional markets and supermarkets, in the near future.

Big C supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City’s Phu Nhuan District, for example, sells cups, glasses and dishes imported mainly from Thailand. Only a few Vietnamese brand products can be found on shelves.

Similarly, imported household appliance products in bulk are showcased at Maximark supermarket in District 10, with 80 percent of them from Japan, China and Thailand.

Co.op Mart and Lotte supermarket are full of plastic household appliance products from Thailand such as trays, bowls, washing-basins and tissue boxes.

Hundreds of blenders and rice cookers under the brand name of Philips, Sharp and Panasonic, sourced from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, have become more popular while Vietnamese products can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Consumer Thanh Hang from Binh Thanh District said she wants to give priority to locally-made products but was disappointed about designs offered by domestic businesses.

Not only supermarkets but also retail stores have seen a dominance of foreign imported goods. For instance, at Ba Chieu household appliance store in Binh Thanh district, imported induction ovens, electric ovens and rice cookers predominate over local products.

The store staff said Malaysian and Thai products have higher prices than Vietnamese items but are still favoured by consumers because of the variety of designs.

Huynh Thi My, General Secretary of Vietnam Plastics Association, said the most worrisome problem for plastic home appliances is how to create eye-catching designs to compete with imported products, mostly from Thailand.

Local products satisfy demand for cheap costs, but for the long term, they will not have a sustainable competitive advantage, according to My.

"Domestic businesses are now ‘winners' surpassing Thai in medium- and low-cost segments, but if the economy develops well and people's living conditions improve, some consumers will possibly shift their options to use imported luxury products," she said.

Among 300 plastic home-appliance businesses, there are 10 large enterprises with their large production scale that can meet the demands and tastes of consumers in big cities.

Truong Dinh Truong from My Linh Nhi Co. in District 12, which specialises in imported Chinese glass items and Thailand plastics for re-distribution, said thanks to easy imports and tax exemptions, many companies are operating in this sector.

"Thai plastic home appliances are priced 10-15 percent higher than local products but are still imported in great quantities," he said.

In Ho Chi Minh City, there are now hundreds of companies specialising in transporting imported goods into Vietnam.-VNA