The export value of wood and timber products in the first two months of 2014 increased 8.4 percent to 796 million USD, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The ministry reported that the US remained Vietnam's largest importer of this kind of product, having imported goods worth 186.67 million USD in the period, about 30 percent of the total value of Vietnam's wood and timber exports.

Major wood and timber products exported to the US market are chairs, fir beds, tables and wardrobes.

China was the second-largest importer with imports valued at 90.56 million USD in January, a 60.3 percent rise compared to the same period last year.

Japan ranked third with imports of 67.76 million USD, relatively unchanged from the previous year.

Cumulative wood and timber exports were more than 5.37 billion USD in 2013, a year-over-year increase of 15.2 percent.

General Secretary of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (Vifores) Nguyen Ton Quyen said Vietnam aimed to export a total 6.2 billion USD worth of wood and timber products this year, up 9 percent compared to 2013.

Quyen added that the export outlook for the industry in 2014 was bright as local exporters have so far signed export contracts valued at more than 3 billion USD.

Also, the signing of bilateral and multilateral agreements would create more favourable conditions for the industry, he remarked.

He noted that the European Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), expected to be signed this year, would be a good opportunity for Vietnam.

Vietnam currently only had access to the markets of Germany, France, Britain and Spain. If Vietnam could export to the 27 countries in the EU, the scale of the market would become much larger, Quyen said.

"The selling price in the European market is higher, the market is more stable and Vietnam's products can be sold directly to local consumers," Quyen said.

However, Quyen added that authorities should change the current regulations to fit the EU's new ones. Furthermore, awareness of partners among the wood and timber products businesses, such as forest planters, traders, trade villages for VPA and FLEGT, was low, so they found it difficult to access opportunities provided by VPA/FLEGT.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is also being evaluated to unearth hidden opportunities for the export of agriculture, forestry and fishery goods, according to Quyen.

However, he noted that if the TPP was signed in 2014, enterprises must be prepared to adapt, including for many large markets such as the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand as well as Canada.

He explained if the country bought wood outside the TPP block, wood products exported to TPP countries would incur two large risks: high taxes and strict legal supervision.

Vietnam currently buys wood from almost 40 countries and exports to countries such as the US, Japan, New Zealand, Canada and the EU. The tariff rate will be zero if wood is bought from the TPP block.-VNA