Over 300 guests, representing international buyers and suppliers in Vietnam’s woodworking ecosystem, attended the webinar on Vietnam Furniture Supply Chain Recovery Plan held on October 8, 2021 via Zoom.
In his welcome remarks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Le Minh Hoan, revealed some information on the industry. In the first eight months of 2021, the export turnover of timber and wood products reached US$10.4 billion, up by 41.4% year over year. The export turnover of wood products in particular reached US$7.98 billion, up by 45.6% year over year. According to the Minister, although not much improvement was seen in September export data, the achievements and efforts of Vietnam’s wood manufacturing industry are remarkable enough amidst the pandemic aftermaths. This can be attributed to thorough preparation, initiative and determination of wood businesses to navigate through obstacles.
In the context of increasing demands from buyers to serve the year-end shopping markets in different countries, it is critical that they are updated with the current situation, recovery plans, and supply capacity of Vietnamese enterprises to international markets. “Now that the pandemic has been put under control and strategies for living with Covid-19 have been adopted, this is a milestone for businesses and policy makers to jointly review and envisage next steps for the industry”, said the Minister.
The workshop facilitator, Ms. Bui Thanh An, Deputy Director of Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said, not only for the wood manufacturing industry, the difficulties brought about by the 4th wave of pandemic during the past few months of 2021 in Vietnam represent a reminder for businesses across all industries to thoroughly review and identify challenges, and more importantly, opportunities in the coming time, when the global supply chain has switched to a completely new way of working under the influence of the pandemic. Ms. An commented “Within the furniture industry, major consumer markets such as the U.S., UK, France, and the Netherlands all increased their demands by about 50% year over year, that is, there is substantial room for growth for suppliers of furniture like Vietnam.”
Ms. An also cited data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade which shows that, if interior, exterior furniture and decorative handicraft are included, Vietnam has exported US$ 10 billion in the first half of 2021, or an increase of 70% over the same period in 2020. In fact, the industry’s activities recorded in the past 2 years, from the outset of the pandemic outbreak, are indicative of great resilience among Vietnamese furniture enterprises. Professional organizations have also been playing an active supporting and guiding role.
Vietnam’s resilience amidst the pandemic is also highly appreciated by the buyers and international community. Mr. Benjamin Petlock, Senior Attaché for Agriculture – U.S. Embassy said that the U.S. market is highly receptive of furniture made in Vietnam. The trade relationship between Vietnam and the United States, whereby one country supplies a legal source of timber materials and the other supplies high-quality furniture products, has grown in recent years. “Both the export and import markets are large and poised for further expansion in the near future,” said Mr. Benjamin Petlock. According to the U.S. Embassy’s Senior Attaché, the pandemic is causing certain turbulences to the global supply chain, from shipping costs to raw material price hikes. However, he believes that the supply chain will quickly regain momentum now that countries are more aware and have a clearer strategy to live with Covid.
Sharing the same view, representatives of major international enterprises in Vietnam such as H. Nicolas & Co, KODA, among others, also affirmed their belief in the recovery of the supply chain in general and Vietnamese enterprises in particular in the coming time. “Despite difficulties, opportunities for Vietnam’s furniture industry are massive. Enterprises themselves are also aware of this great opportunity and have been constantly looking for ways to adapt to the new context, from retaining employees, sourcing stable supply of raw materials to even adopting modern machinery and equipment to reduce dependence on human resources and improve product quality. In addition, given supportive policies from the Government and companionship of industry associations, I believe Vietnam’s wood manufacturing industry will quickly recover, regain momentum, and continue to serve as a key economic driver of the country,” said Mr. Do Xuan Lap – Chairman of Viforest.
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