Fourteen outstanding wood processing and forestry products export firms were honoured for their business achievements at the celebration in HCM City (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - The country’s exports of forestry products are expected to top 9 billion USD this year, with wood and wooden products accounting for 8.5-8.7 billion USD, according to the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (Hawa).

Nguyen Quoc Khanh, Hawa chairman, said exports of wooden and other forestry products rose by 10.2 percent last year to a record 8 billion USD, a figure targeted only in 2020.

Exports of wood and wooden products increased by 12.3 percent a year for the past seven years, and are forecast to rise even faster in the next three years, he told a recent celebration in Ho Chi Minh City, on the occasion of the forestry products exported value reaching the 8 billion USD mark in 2017.

He listed the opportunities for the sector until 2020, saying the future is bright.

China, the world’s largest supplier of wooden products, has imposed export taxes on wooden products. It faces a lawsuit in the US for dumping furniture, reducing the competiveness of its products.

Other main furniture producers like Germany and Italy have cut production due to higher costs, while Malaysia and some other ASEAN members have development strategies but lack the workforce required.

Global demand for furniture remains high, and though Vietnam is strong in that area its exports are insignificant, which means there is considerable scope for Vietnamese firms to increase their market share.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong hailed the sector’s achievements, saying that reaching 8 billion USD in exports is a very important landmark for the forestry sector.

It would have opportunities to expand its market share in the global market since “there is an increase in demand,” he said.

But consumers have increasingly higher demands and furniture producers need to improve quality, designs and features to add value to their products, he said, adding that Vietnam’s 100 million population makes it a promising market too.

To achieve the export target this year, firms need to invest more in technology and business management to raise productivity and sustain quality, Cuong suggested.

They should “diversify timber sources” to avoid the risk of high prices while saying no to illegal sources, he said.

The US has cut corporate income tax to support local furniture producers, and Vietnamese firms should avoid export of products that US firms are producing, Cuong noted.

Nguyen Lien, general director of Lam Viet Joint Stock Company, said the market for wooden products is good now with many international buyers shifting from China to Vietnam.

“I think the export target of 9-10 billion USD is easy to achieve.”

His company had earned 21 million USD from furniture exports last year, and it is expected to increase by 20-25 percent to 25-27 million USD this year, he said.

“Businesses have prepared well to capitalise on market opportunities,” he added.

Wood and wooden products rank sixth in the list of the country’s largest export items.

Vietnam is the largest exporter of those products among ASEAN member nations, second largest in Asia and fifth in the world.

Fourteen outstanding wood processing and forestry products export firms were honoured for their business achievements at the celebration.-VNA