The Vietnam International Furniture and Home Accessories Fair (VIFA 2012) opened on Mar. 11 at the Sai Gon Convention and Exhibition Centre in HCM City's District 7.

About 137 local and foreign enterprises are displaying a wide range of products in 614 booths, including indoor and outdoor furniture, handicraft items, and wood processing tools.

"The key highlight of this year's trade event is that while other ASEAN fairs scale down their exhibition space, VIFA, on the contrary, has decided to expand it via outdoor exhibition space of 1,500sq.m.", Nguyen Chien Thang, chairman of the Handicrafts and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (Hawa), said at the opening ceremony.

"It is also conducting factory tours that enable visitors to witness furniture production at HCM City , Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces," he said.

Given the current difficult economic conditions, Vietnamese producers have been seeking new export markets. Exports to China , Japan , the Middle East and South America have achieved some growth last year and this trend would continue this year, Thang said.

Huynh Khanh Hiep, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said: "It is hard to find customers and even harder to keep them. Therefore, through this event, the exhibitors must take care to learn the need and preference of clients, continue to be creative and make management more effective in order to be at their competitive best in the global market."

"VIFA 2012 will be an effective, important trade facilitation channel for the country, a forum for local and international enterprises to meet, exchange and cooperate," said Nguyen Thanh Bien, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade.

Organised by Hawa, the exhibition will run until March 14./.