Seeking new markets is key to boosting consumption of local garment products, said policy-makers and experts at a seminar to discuss ways of boosting the sector.

The seminar on solutions to access resources and expand the garment business globally is co-hosted by the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) and Vietinbank with Dun&Bradstreert (D&B) on Aug. 9 in Hanoi .

At the seminar, leading experts in the field of garments and textiles and trade and exports shared experiences and outlined the potential and limits of the local garment and textile industry and solutions to find new customers.

They also looked at ways to attract potential customers in traditional markets and handling current difficulties for exporters.

Slow domestic consumption has been attributed to the global economic crisis.

Over the last seven months, Vietnam 's garment and textile exports reached 9.3 billion USD, maintaining an annual growth rate of 7-8 percent. This is viewed as modest compared to the country's export growth of 22 percent.

Dang Phuong Dung, deputy chairwoman and general secretary of Vitas, said the major export markets were the US , the EU, Japan and the Republic of Korea . Exports to South Korea alone had grown following the signing of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with some of the ASEAN nations, including Vietnam .

Looking back at 2011, inflation is low and exports orders remained high, but in 2012, the US has faced ongoing public debt and unemployment that has affected consumers.

The US and the EU market have seen low growth, and the eurozone crisis has also had a significant effect on garment exporters.

The first solution to accelerate consumption of garment products is to seek new markets. Apart from traditional markets, domestic exporters need to expand their markets.

In addition, trade promotion needs to be enhanced to establish new partners, said Dung.

Also speaking at the seminar, Nguyen Thi Khanh Phuong of Vietinbank said her bank will help its customers access capital through export support programmes from different countries.

Vietinbank will also help garment exporters to balance their forex demand between members of the garment and textile sector to minimise the reliance on foreign currencies while ensuring payment ability and avoiding exchange rate risks.-VNA