Wood furniture, handicrafts exports show recovery signs, but challenges persist hinh anh 1A large number of visitors visit VIFA EXPO held last year in HCM City. (Photo courtesy of the organisers)
HCM City (VNS/VNA) - While optimistic about a recovery in wood products exports, industry insiders also cautioned about the challenges ahead and said businesses should adopt flexible strategies and enhance promotions to retain their traditional customers and get new ones.

Speaking at a meeting held to introduce the 2024 Vietnam International Furniture & Home Accessories Fair (VIFA EXPO) in Ho Chi Minh City on February 20, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s HCM City branch Tran Ngoc Liem said exports of wooden products declined for the first time in 2023 after two decades of impressive growth.

But there have been positive signs since the fourth quarter of last year, and especially in January, he said.

In January, exports topped 1.49 billion USD, a 72.5% increase year-on-year and accounting for 29% of all agricultural product exports, he said.

With inflation easing in the US, the biggest importer of Vietnam’s wooden products, demand is expected to go up, he said.

Executives attending the meeting said they have export orders for until the end of the second quarter.

But buyers now order smaller volumes than before, and require products to come in more new designs or product samples since they are also striving to find the right products, they said.

Tran Quoc Manh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Handicraft Exporters Association, said: “Making product samples would result in higher costs compared to mass production, but we have to get used to it.

“Firms need to coordinate with customers to create new designs to conquer target markets.”

They also expressed concern about the rising logistic costs and shipping times due to the Red Sea tension, saying it would adversely impact the industry’s export, especially to the US and EU.

Liem said the market still faces potential difficulties due to complicated and prolonged geopolitical conflicts.

"In the current context trade promotion is extremely necessary."

VCCI HCM City will organise the 15th VIFA EXPO along with the Vietnam Association for Construction Materials and the Alliance Handicraft & Wooden Fine Art Corporation (Lien Minh Company) from February 26 to 29.

The fair is expected to provide opportunities for businesses to showcase their products and connect with more potential partners, he said.

Dien Quang Hiep, General Director of Binh Duong-based Minh Phat 2 Indoor Furniture and Sofa Co., Ltd, said businesses could no longer depend on traditional customers but need to proactively seek new export markets and also invest in increasing capacity, productivity and competitiveness.

Fairs and exhibition are effective promotion channels that help wood industry enterprises meet prospective partners from all over the world and keep abreast of market trends, he added.

VIFA EXPO 2024

Dang Quoc Hung, General Director of Lien Minh Company, one of the fair’s organisers, said VIFA EXPO would be held at the Sky Expo Vietnam International Exhibition and Convention Centre in HCM City’s District 12, marking the start of a chain of furniture fairs in Asia.

It has attracted more than 600 exhibitors who would set up over 2,000 booths, he said.

The exhibitors are from 17 countries and territories, including the US, Canada, China, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan (China), the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, the Netherlands, the UK, Denmark, France, and Australia, besides the host Vietnam, he said.

It would showcase a wide range of furniture and wood products, home decoration items, handicrafts, machinery, and supporting services.

The organisers have received more than 3,500 registrations from 83 countries and territories, including some new markets such as Norway, Oman, Nepal, Ecuador, Jamaica, and Iran, indicating the global interest in Vietnam's wood, interior and exterior industry, he said.

Last year the fair had attracted more than 18,000 visitors, including nearly 6,000 from 117 countries and territories, and 80% of exhibitors had signed contracts and MoUs worth 100 million USD right at the fair, he added.

Le Ha Trong Chau of Duc Thien Co., Ltd, which exports sofas to the US, said his company has participated in the VIFA EXPO for four years and regularly met new customers.

It has orders for until the end of June and hopes to achieve 20-30% growth this year, he said.

Manh, who is also Chairman of the Saigon Trade and Production Development Corporation, said: "Through fairs like VIFA EXPO, we have found customers and signed sales contracts."/.


VNA