Paper consumption in Vietnam is expected to increase by a minimum of 13 percent annually until 2015, reaching 4.37 million tonnes by then, the fifth industry congress heard in HCM City on April 19.

Vu Ngoc Bao, general secretary of the Vietnam Pulp and Paper Association (VPPA), said: "Paper consumption in Vietnam remains low, just 30 kilogramme per capita per year compared to the world average of 55kg."

Domestic production only meets around 58 percent of the local demand. It was 1.5 million tonnes while demand topped 2.6 milion tonnes last year, meaning the rest has to be imported, Bao said.

Most of the import is high-quality paper not produced in the country and for industrial use, he added.

The association said the outlook for the paper industry is bright, but for sustainable development firms should focus more on improving production and wastewater treatment technologies and training human resources.

It also urged the Government to draft policies to encourage collection and use of recycled paper to reduce import of raw materials.

"Globally 70 percent of paper production is from recycled paper, but in Vietnam the figure is far lower," it said.

It was a mere 34 percent last year compared to 75-78 percent in Japan and Germany and 65-78 percent in Vietnam 's neighbouring countries.

The association advised businesses building pulp and paper production plans to set up modern production lines and manufacture high-quality coated papers used in printing and packaging to replace imports.

It also advised them against making chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp and newsprint since their production exceeded demand.

The event was organised within the framework of the first international exhibition on paper chemicals and technologies (Paper Chem Tech) which opened on April 19 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The exhibition, the first of its kind held in the country, features the latest machinery, equipment and accessories used in the paper industry from more than 60 exhibitors, including those from China , India , the Republic of Korea and Vietnam .

It is being organised by the Minh Vi Exhibition and Advertisement Services Co Ltd and the China National Chemical Information Centre.

The three-day event is expected to attract more than 3,000 visitors.-VNA