Vietnam’s forestry sector aims for an export turnover of US$14 billion this year, a slight increase from the $13.17 billion last year, according to Deputy General Director of the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development Pham Van Dien.
“The biggest issue for the sector is a growing trend of trade probes from export markets, especially on anti-dumping,” noted Mr. Dien at a year-end conference of the Forestry Department this week.
Mr. Dien expected stronger efforts from local authorities in maintaining the forest coverage at 42% this year, and targets revenue from forest environmental services fees at VND2.8 trillion ($121 million).
Vietnam exported US$13.17 billion worth of timber and forestry products in 2020, 5.4% above the year’s plan and up 16.4% year-on-year. Meanwhile, the country’s imports of wood and wooden products rose by 11% year-on-year to US$2.58 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $10.5 billion, up 17.9%.
Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong suggested the 2020 result is significant given the severe impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic, high logistics costs and natural disasters.
“ Afforestation is key for Vietnam to ensure sustainable development of wood exports,” added Mr. Cuong.
Sharing Mr. Dien concern over the fierce competition in international markets, the agricultural minister expressed concern that Vietnam’s two most important wood export markets of South Korea and the US have already initiated trade probes on Vietnamese products.
Mr. Dien said in the past few years, Vietnam has stepped up efforts against illegal logging, which is reflected by the signing of the EU – Vietnam Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), aiming to ensure that all timber and timer products destined for the EU market from Vietnam comply with the current laws and regulations.
“While the EU has recognized Vietnam’s efforts in realizing its commitment under the VPA, there remain issues of foreign companies forging Vietnamese origin for wood products to later export to a third country,” he said.
The fact that Vietnam is a member of major free trade agreements, including the EVFTA or CPTPP, has led to more foreign firms willing to commit trade frauds to enjoy preferential treatment.
“Vietnam wood sector will likely face severe consequences from such acts,” noted Mr. Dien, urging local firms to refrain from committing frauds for unfair trade gains.
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