Vietnamese pulp manufacturing has proved its attraction as the country remains the world’s largest wood chip exporter for three consecutive years with a volume of 6 million tonnes, or 2.7 million tonnes of pulp, in 2012.

At the Vietnam International Exhibition on Paper Chemicals and Technologies (Paper Vietnam 2013) in June, a host of viable projects were announced by both domestic and foreign enterprises.

According to General Secretary of the Vietnam Pulp and Paper Association (VPPA) Vu Ngoc Bao, the Vietnamese pulp and paper market will get hotter and fiercely competitive when the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and India, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand takes full effect in 2015, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, of which Vietnam is a member, is signed.

“To compete, domestic businesses must expand their investment in production lines, reduce expenses and enhance product quality,” he added.

Plummeting demand is posing a challenge for the sector. At present, the total consumption of Vietnamese paper is down 3 percent from one year ago. Newsprint has fallen at the fastest rate since people cut their spending and businesses place fewer advertisements in newspapers or use other forms to promote their brands. Meanwhile, the consumption of high quality wood-free coated paper has also seen a plunge of 34.5 percent.

On the other hand, a positive signal is emerging - paper imports have been declining. Statistics from the VPPA show that paper imports in this year’s first half were down 12 percent from the same period in 2012, particularly newsprint and high quality wood-free coated paper.

“This proves that the quality of domestic paper rivals imported products,” said Vu Ngoc Bao.

Notably, paper exports have increased by 15 percent thanks to stable demand growth in such markets as China’s Taiwan (votive paper) and the US (stationery paper).-VNA