Vietnam Jan-Feb wood exports up 60 pct

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Wood product exports rose 60 percent in the first two months this year to US$617 million as orders increased amidst a recovering global economy, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

If exports continue to grow at this pace, the annual target of $3 billion would be achieved without any difficulty, the ministry said.

Nguyen Chien Thang, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association, said although prices have not recovered, local wood companies have received more than enough orders.

"Some companies were on the verge of shutting down last year, so it's great to see all workers have enough work to do now," he said.

Tran Quoc Manh, general director of HCMC-based Sadaco, said the woodcraft industries in other countries in the region like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia were recovering at a slower pace than Vietnam

The problem, though, was that it had become difficult to ask for higher prices from foreign customers because they were all still afraid that the economic recovery was not really stable, Manh said.

Huynh Van Hanh, director of the Minh Phuong Wood Company in Binh Duong Province, said local producers were also worried about the hike in power prices which took effect this month.

The 6.8 percent increase in electricity prices would drive production costs up 7 percent, Hanh said, noting that all materials would become more expensive following the hike.

Thang said the power price hike is a burden that is too heavy for the recovering wood sector. He said higher prices would end up making local products less competitive than Chinese exports.

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