The US imposition of high import tariffs on Chinese timber products will bring about opportunities for Vietnam to boost exports to the market, experts said. However, they warned of a wave of Chinese investments in timber processing industry in Vietnam to evade US import duties, which is of domestic businesses' concern.
Since early this year, the US has remained the biggest consumer of Vietnamese timber products with nearly US$2 billion, up 12.4% against the same period last year. It is followed by China (up 2.7% to US$660 million), Japan (up 4.7% to US$620 million), and the Republic of Korea (up 50.5% to nearly US$530 million). Currently, exports of wood and timber products to traditional markets show positive signs and Vietnamese exporters have filled orders till the end of the year.
Experts said in the short run, the US-China trade tension will facilitate the export of domestic timber products to the US. Vietnam’s exports to the US currently continue their relatively high growth, making up 30% of the country’s total forestry export value, said Nguyen Ton Quyen, Secretary General of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFORES).
Last year, timber product exports to the four key markets of the US, China, Japan and the RoK exceeded US$5.8 billion, accounting for nearly 76% of the country’s total wood exports.
Experts suggested that the wood sector should maintain and diversify its import sources and access materials from less risky markets. Domestic businesses should be fully prepared to confront world market changes and take advantage of opportunities to promote exports to highly lucrative markets like the US and Japan. They should exert themselves to improve productivity, quality and competitiveness and reduce prices to increase their share in the US market.