According to figures from the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VTFPA), Vietnam’s wood exports value in 2019 is set to reach US$11.5 billion, exceeding the industry’s target of $10.5 billion and contributing to a 20 percent growth compared to 2018.
Đỗ Xuân Lập, chairman of the VTFPA, said Vietnamese firms had been able to enter and gain footholds in numerous markets around the world, overcoming their shortcomings and limitations.
Exports of wood products to the U.S. saw a sharp rise in 2019, as well as robust growth in markets including Japan, the UK, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, said the department of import-export under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
With Japan and Canada being part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the department said Vietnamese firms were starting to take advantage of the trade deal’s reduced tariffs to penetrate these markets.
As the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is set to take effect in 2020, Vietnamese firms can also look forward to similar tariff cuts and trade advantages from the EU, one of Vietnam’s major wood products export markets.
The department has set a target of $12 billion for wood exports in 2020, saying the fast growth of large markets such as the U.S. and the EU are major drivers for the industry.
Industry experts said the U.S. would likely remain Vietnam’s largest export market in 2020. During the last ten months of 2019, Vietnam’s wood exports to the U.S. hit nearly $4.2 billion, a 34.5 percent increase from the same period in 2018, and accounting for almost half of the country’s total wood export.
Such rapid growth, however, is not without risks, as Vietnamese firms can expect stricter regulations in the future as U.S. agencies ramp up efforts to counter trade fraud, especially in relation to product origin.
While concrete steps have been taken by the Vietnamese government to prevent foreign goods being falsely labelled as Made-in-Vietnam, trade authorities have warned Vietnamese firms against taking part in fraudulent activities to ensure healthy growth for the industry.
Experts also advised firms to take action as soon as possible to build sustainable value chains, saying they would play a crucial part in the success of the industry. The industry’s value chain, which includes numerous tasks from planting forests, processing and commercialisation of wood products to export must be linked and integrated into firms’ long-term sustainable development strategies.