Vietnam’s garment and textile exports have registered an annual growth of 25-30 percent in recent years, earning 15.6 billion USD in 2011.

In comparison with the world’s annual apparel consumption of about 350-400 billion USD, Vietnam ’s share is still modest, but there are expected to be more opportunities for the country’s garment and textile industry.

According to trade experts, free trade agreements (FTAs) between Vietnam , ASEAN and other countries and regions, which are in force or under negotiations, are a useful tool to lift the industry’s turnover in the future.

It is clear that the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which took effect in late 2009, has opened major opportunities for the country’s growing industry as it regulates to cut all tariffs on apparel products to Japan to zero percent.

In the first six months of this year, Vietnam shipped garment and textiles to Japan worth 882 million USD, a rise of 23.8 percent compared to the same period last year, accounting for 13 percent of the industry’s total export turnover.

Similarly, the industry’s exports to the Republic of Korea (RoK) saw a strong growth of 50 percent in the first four months of this year, reaching 380 million USD thanks to an FTA between ASEAN and the RoK, which came into force in 2010.

The Vietnam-EU FTA, which is under negotiations, expects that the tariff on more than 90 export items, including garment and textiles, will be gradually cut to or promptly enjoy zero percent.

In 2011, Vietnam shipped apparel products worth 2.4 billion USD to the EU, accounting for 16 percent of the export share. But the figure was only 1.12 billion USD in the first half of this year, down by 3.3 percent over the same period last year.
Besides, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which involves Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam, is also creating high hopes for Vietnam’s apparel industry to access and expand export to TPP members, particularly the US – a market consuming one quarter of the global garment and textile products.

The US is Vietnam ’s top importer, reaching 5.1 billion USD last year and 3.5 billion USD in this year’s January-June period.
Le Quoc An, senior advisor to the Vietnam Garment and Textile Association, predicted that Vietnam’s exports to the US in the next five years will double the current figure, if the TPP is signed.

Once the TPP takes effect, Vietnam’s apparel products to the US will enjoy zero percent tariff compared to the current level of 5-25 percent, increasing advantages of Vietnam’s garment and textiles against other countries.-VNA