Vietnam has opportunities to expand exports of wood products this year, especially to the US market, delegates said at a conference on March 12.

Despite global economic difficulties, the wood processing industry has enjoyed an average growth of 15 percent over the past seven years (2008-14), said Huynh Van Hanh, Deputy Chairman of the Handicrafts and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (Hawa).

Last year the country earned 6.2 billion USD from the export of wood and wooden products, a year-on-year increase of 11.5 percent, Hanh told participants at a conference on Export to the US Market: Opportunities and Challenges.

The United States, Japan and China were the three largest markets for Vietnamese timber in 2014, accounting for 65.13 percent of the national total export value of timber and forest products.

Hanh said exports to the US market increased strongly in recent years from 1.39 billion USD in 2010 to 2.23 billion USD last year, with bedroom, kitchen, and office furniture being among key export items.

The recovery of the US economy has increased consumption of furniture products in the market, said Tran Quoc Manh, Hawa's executive board member and chairman of the Saigon Trade and Production Development Corp.

The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will open up export opportunities for Vietnamese firms to the market, including those in the wood industry, he said.

Vietnam's furniture export value currently accounts for just 2.68 percent of the total figure of 70 furniture exporting countries.

Wood and wood products exports are expected to grow by at least 15 percent this year, reaching at least 7.2 billion USD, Hanh said, adding that export revenue was 1.049 billion USD in the first two months of the year, up 14 percent over the same period last year.-VNA