A four-day furniture and handicrafts expo will begin in HCM City on Oct. 5, which is expected to help producers increase their sales abroad.

"The annual expo will serve as a bridge to connect businesses in the furniture and handicrafts industry with international buyers," said Quach To Dung, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade at a press briefing on Sept. 29.

She said businesses at the even would have an opportunity to market products for export in Vietnam, thus saving costs.

Around 200 companies have registered to set up 500 stalls.

On display will be indoor and outdoor furniture, interior decoration, materials and accessories as well as bamboo and rattan furniture and handicrafts.

An online expo at the site www.hcmexpo.com.vn will help those who cannot attend the EXPO 2011.

There will be a seminar on increasing the volume of outdoor furniture and bamboo and rattan handicrafts to the Japanese market.

According to Bui Thi Thanh An, who represents the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, furniture is a major export of Vietnam, which achieved a turnover of 3.4 billion USD last year, up from a modest 219 million USD in 2000.

The US and Europe were two major markets, accounting for 44 percent and 29 percent, respectively, of the total turnover. Currently, India and the Middle East are growing markets.

In the year's first eight months, exports posted a total value of 2.4 billion USD, compared to 4 billion USD target set for 2011.

Dang Quoc Hung, vice chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (HAWA), said ecomomies in the US and Western Europe remained in a difficult situation, which would be difficult for Vietnam's furniture export sector.

Meanwhile, the price for wooden imports has increased between 10 and 30 percent.

Producers have to import 80 percent of their total wood materials. Petroleum, electricity, water and labour are also more expensive.

The event is being organised by the Department of Industry and Trade as part of the National Trade Promotion Programme.

It will take place at the Tan Binh Exhibition and Convention Centre, 446 Hoang Van Thu, Tan Binh District and run until Saturday./.