Vietnam can outdo China in furniture exports to the US to take the top spot by 2009 if it maintains current growth in sales to this vast market, said the fabric editor of US magazine Furniture Today. US furniture imports are projected to grow by 8% this year while Vietnamese shipments to American are seen rising 128% to US$167 million, Susan M. Andrews told a seminar at Expo 2004, an international furniture and handicraft fair in HCM City, which opened on September 29.
American is the world’s largest furniture market, which is valued at US$74 billion, with US$15.6 billion of it from imports. China is now America’s biggest furniture exporter with a 19% market share. Andrews said Vietnam and more advantages than many other countries, including China, to boost furniture sales to the US
In the eyes of American consumers, the design of Vietnamese furniture has a high level of creativeness and reflects the classical European style, especially of France, Andrews told the seminar held by the HCM City Service of Trade, also the fair organiser.
Andrews proposed local furniture producers make full use of this advantage by building brands and creating a distinctive feature for their products in the American market.
The capacity of most Vietnamese producers is small and medium but they can still penetrate the US. market because 29% of America’s furniture retailers, which are also importers, have a similar scale of operation, Andrews said.
Vietnam should not focus heavily on bedroom furniture sales to the US; otherwise, prices will fall to very low levels, Andrews said, meaning that Vietnam might face the same US. anti-dumping lawsuit as China.
Andrews asked local producers to diversify products and find niche market for certain items like luxury interior furnishing items and dining room furniture.
Actually, many participants at Expo 2004 are displaying bedroom furniture. Jeffrey M. Dilley, chairman of Exsero Group Inc, found in a recent survey of local wood processors that many of them were centering on bedroom furniture production. Exporters should not concentrate too much on one particular item if they are to avoid an anti-dumping suit, Andrews said.
The five-day Expo 2004 is the country’s biggest furniture and handicraft show so far with 211 local and foreign companies showcasing their wares at 507 booths.
The Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (HAWA) on September 29 also took the occasion of the event to award 27 prizes to winners in a furniture design contest, which attracted 116 contenders, including 12 from New Zealand.