Rising labour costs, increased shipping times due to labour shortage and antidumping duties on bedroom furniture are among factors that have prompted US buyers to move from China to ASEAN countries, especially Vietnam, the CEO of online portal TigerTrade said at a seminar in HCM City on Nov. 3.

Tanjila Islam, who also founded the trade portal, said ASEAN's skilled workforce, and innovative designs, steady and ample access to raw materials such as bamboo offered diverse sourcing opportunities for furniture and home decor buyers.

The current situation is a great opportunity for the region to boost exports to the lucrative market, she said, adding that retail furniture sales in the US had increased by 5.5 percent this year.

"Furniture imports have growing importance in the US market, both for outdoor and indoor furniture, accounting for 71 percent of all wooden furniture sold in the US ," she said.

The US 's furniture imports have increased by 19 percent annually since 2009, and are expected to increase in the coming years.

Islam said she saw high demand in the US market for both outdoor furniture as well as home decor items.

The US was a large and diverse market and buyers pay attention to the source of wood and product quality, she added.

Regarding styles, she said vintage looking furniture and custom-made products were preferred to mass-produced designs.

Vietnam was the third largest exporter of furniture and home decor to the US , accounting for 6.5 percent of the market share.

It ranked eighth in the world and first in Southeast Asia in terms of furniture and home decor exports, she said.

Bui Vuong Anh, representative of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), said that despite several difficulties, export of wooden products topped 2.8 billion USD, an increase of 16.3 percent over last year.

In the wake of shrinking demand in Vietnam's traditional export markets due to the global economic crisis, local companies should identify new markets and ways to boost exports in the coming months, he said.

The seminar was co-organised by TigerTrade, Vietrade and the Handicraft and Wood Association of HCM City./.