Plastic packaging manufacturers have been forced to make adjustments in anticipation of more competition in the overseas markets.

In the first six months of the year, the plastics industry exported 825 million USD, up by 21 percent compared over the same period last year.

Independent market observers said this is a positive sign because the export value of many industries, such as garments and footwear, in the saw slow growth slowly in the period, averaging only 10 percent.

However, many CEOs of plastics-production enterprises, particularly plastic-bag manufacturers, said they hve foreseen problems that could affect their export activities.

According to the Vietnam Plastics Association, Japan , the EU and the US are the biggest importers of Vietnamese plastic products, with market shares of 27 percent, 25 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Plastic packaging accounts for 66 percent of the total plastic industry's export value.

However, consumption has decreased in these overseas markets because of prolonged economic recession, affecting the Vietnamese industry.

Tran Viet Anh, general director of the Nam Thai Son Import and Export Company that specialises in plastic-bag exports, said 60 percent of the company's total products were exported to the EU market.

However, since May the number of orders from that market had begun to drop, Son said.

Nguyen Van Khue, general director of the RKW – Lotus Joint Stock Company, said that Vietnam 's exports of plastic bags to the EU had some advantages because this market had placed anti-dumping duties on plastic bags from Thailand and China , with rates of between 7.9 and 14.3 percent, and between 8.4 and 28.8 percent, respectively.

The duties on Thai and Chinese plastic bags caused prices to jump 10 percent higher than similar Vietnamese products, according to Khue.

However, the EU's anti-dumping policy on Thai and Chinese plastic bags is expected to be lifted in September, so the Vietnamese product's price advantage will be lost.

Japan is a big importer of Vietnamese plastic bags, but the country is a choosy market and has rejected large volumes of Vietnamese plastic products, according to Anh.-VNA