Vietnam, a world wood processing centre, is facing a high market risk as the country’s wood sector remains dependent on imported materials while its export markets are becoming stricter in wood origin and legality, said an expert in the sector.

The growth of wood chip processing and exporting is another threat to the wood processing sector as inputs from both sectors are sourced from Vietnamese wood. Up to 80 percent of domestic input materials are currently used for wood chip processing, according to To Xuan Phuc from the Forest Trends organisation.

However, many wood processors agreed that exporting wood chips brings about modest socio-economic efficiency, he said during a conference in Hanoi on May 13 that focused on the role of imported materials and orientations for the wood chip processing sector.

Meanwhile, wood chip processors at the event argued that the expansion of the wood chip processing has stimulated the planting of forests and improved the livelihoods of millions of households who live on forestry.

Participants at the conference also discussed State policies related to the management and development of forest resources towards reducing dependence on imported materials by limiting exports of wood chips and increasing large tree planting.

Phuc raised his support to the policies, arguing that they help enhance value for exported products and improve incomes of forest planters.

However, he suggested that more support in saplings and capital is needed to encourage farmers to plant big wood trees.

Le Cong Can, Director of Cat Phu Vung Tau Company, held that the policy of planting forests and increasing technology in export products are on the right track and need support.

Nevertheless, wood chip export tax increases will affect forest farmers, he said, adding that new policies should be designed to foster forest planting and productivity.

They also pointed to the need for in-depth research on whether to prioritise the wood processing or wood chip processing sector.

Currently, Vietnamese wood products are available in 120 countries and territories. Last year, the country imported 2 million cubic meters of sawn timber and 1.4 million cubic meters of log timbers from 115 countries and territories.

Total wood imports of the country reached 1.72 billion USD, or 27.5 percent of total exports of wood and wooden products.

The country plans to reduce wood chip exports to 3 million tonnes in 2020, or a drop of 50 percent from 2015.-VNA