The garment sector exported accessories for the first time last year, after decades of importing them as inputs, according to the Vietnam Garment and Textile Group (Vinatex).

Vinatex, the country's leading garment manufacturer, said the exports of accessories contributed roughly 700 million USD to the industry's total exports of 20 billion USD in 2013.

It noted that last year, the industry used accessories made in Vietnam, instead of importing accessories and raw materials from other countries such as China, the Republic of Korea and Bangladesh.

After importing production equipment valued at 35 billion VND (1.7million USD) from Sweden and Italy to manufacture garment accessories, Vinatex now manufactures more than 200 million products annually for both domestic use and exports.

General Director of Garment 10 Co Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen pointed out that the proportion of locally manufactured content in the company's products has increased considerably over the years, from 30-40 percent earlier to 60 percent currently.

While the country's garment export earnings have climbed to 20 billion USD, the availability of local raw materials and accessories remains relatively modest.

Increasing the proportion of local content in garments will become highly important, especially after Vietnam joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, because a high localisation rate is an important requirement for exports to the TPP markets.

To raise the localisation rate, Vinatex recently signed an agreement to borrow 600 million USD from the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam during 2014-16 to build a weaving and dyeing factory, as well as boost production to 60 million products a year. It plans to invest 30 million USD in constructing up to 10 factories for the local market and for exports.

The General Director of Vinatex, Tran Quang Nghi, projected the localisation rate of the textile industry could rise to 60 percent in 2015 and to 70 percent by 2020.-VNA