Technical barriers restrict wood exports

17:09 | 09/10/2010
HCM CITY — Stricter provisions for timber products in importing countries are making it harder for Vietnamese wood product manufacturers to export, according to a HCM City certification services company.
Workers finish chairs at Phu Quy wooden furniture processing plant in the central province of Quang Binh. Wooden furniture makers are struggling to comply with a number of stricter standards imposed by importing countries. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Ton

To adapt to changes in US and EU regulations, wood product makers need to improve their management capacity and have more skilled literate workers who can adapt quickly to new technology, Nguyen Ngoc Khoa, commercial director of Bureau Veritas Viet Nam Ltd Co, told a furniture and craftmaking seminar on importing provisions and solutions on Thursday in HCM City.

Wood furniture makers would have to comply with management standards ISO 9001, ISO14001 and international certification including Forest Stewardship Council-Chain of Custody Certificate (FSC-CoC) and Forest Stewardship Council-Forest Management Certificate (FSC-FM).

He said there were also other obvious benefits to joining international organisations such as better knowledge of the market.

He said there were also other obvious benefits to joining international organisations such as better knowledge of the market.


Timber export turnover on the rise

HA NOI — Turnover from timber and furniture exports in the first nine months of this year was about US$2.43 billion, a year-on-year increase of 37.7 per cent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

According to the Viet Nam Timber and Forest Products Association, timber exports continue to show positive signs. Orders for exports until the end of the year have risen rapidly, many of them substantial purchases by the United States and the European Union.

Timber is among the top five export earners and the nation is now Southeast Asia's second biggest timber exporter.

Viet Nam now has more than 2,500 timber processing businesses, nearly three times higher than in 2000 and about eight times that of 1990. The number of non-State businesses represents 90 per cent of the total.

More than 3,000 different timber products are now in production and are sold in 120 foreign markets.

However, despite some domestic timber resources, Viet Nam has to import a large amount from overseas.

In the first nine months of this year, Viet Nam imported $827 million worth of timber.

"One of the problems is a lot of companies here don't know about the new import regulations. Also, a lot of the enterprises that work according to substandard models and import wood from countries don't comply with the regulations," he said.

Exported wood products to the US and EU are often at risk of anti-dumping suits or come up against conservation regulations such as the amended Lacey Act in the US and European Union's 2005 Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)

Under the LACEY Act, all wood products must have certificates proving they are made from legally exploited wood. Without a certificate, the products could be seized or destroyed.

In the EU, new FLEGT regulations will take effect by 2012, requiring more effort and understanding from Vietnamese enterprises and ministries if they want to export wood products to the market.

Tran Duc Phu from Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services said the US has recently enacted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act effective in February, under which the list of products subject to import limitations has been lengthened.

Dang Quoc Hung, deputy chairman of HCM City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association said, "There will be increasing trading barriers for wood products, and people need to be more aware of issues of social responsibility and environmental protection."

The companies need to link closely so as to share the latest information and avoid business risks, he said.

However, the burgeoning number of wooden furniture makers are very dependent on imported wood. They import up to 80 per cent of the timber they need, while import prices have risen steeply this year.

Vietnamese wood product makers, which mostly produce furniture, export mainly to the United States, EU and Japan.

The seminar was organised by the Bureau Veritas in collaboration with HCM City Department of Industry and Trade and HCM City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association.


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