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Dumping claims threaten wood exports   2009-10-28 - Viet Nam News

The nation’s US$3 billion timber product exporters face barriers, as Viet Nam Timber and Forestry Products Association vice chairman Nguyen Ton Quyen tells Hai Quan (Customs) newspaper.

What barriers do Vietnamese export wood products face?

There will be increasing trading barriers for wood products.

Viet Nam has seen high growth in export turnover of wood products including an annual turnover of over US$1billion to the US and nearly $1billion to Europe. Exported wood products to the US and the EU are often at risk of anti-dumping suits. Recently, Chinese wood products have also faced the anti-dumping measures in the US. Similar Vietnamese products could face the same situation in the US. There was a warning about anti-dumping regulations for exported wood products since 2005 and the threat is more serious following the economic crisis.

Besides the risk of facing anti-dumping legal action, there are some technical barriers for Vietnamese enterprises exporting wood products to the US.

The first one is the Lacey Act, which becomes effective early next year. Under the act, all wood products must have certificates proclaiming that they are made from the legally exploited wood. Without a certificate, the products could be seized or destroyed.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which starts taking effect next year, and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals also include complicated regulations and standards.

In the EU, regulations on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) will take effect by 2011 and it requires more efforts from Vietnamese enterprises and ministries if they want to export wood products to the market.

How do you intend to deal with the new situation?

Our association, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Industry and Trade are updating enterprises about the new regulations.

MARD has set up an inter-sector working group to study solutions and propose actions to deal with the situation. However, it is difficult to meet the demand of the new regulations.

For FLEGT’s regulations, Viet Nam should work with its importers and exporters to agree on definition for legal wood. Then, they should develop a procedure for appraising the origin of the wood from growing, transporting, processing, exporting and distributing. Then a certificate for legally exploited wood will be issued.

This process needs to be rapidly introduced or Viet Nam will lose its opportunity to export its wood products to the EU in 2011.

Our association is working with others to develop detailed guidelines for the enterprises.

We have completed a survey of 100 enterprises on how much they know about the FLEGT and most of them are lacking information about the new regulations.

Some enterprises are studying the regulations while some foreign partners are actively supporting Vietnamese enterprises so transition to the new regulations goes without a hitch. However, most of the enterprises are waiting for support from the association and State’s agencies.

What’s your view on the barriers to exports, and what advice do you give to enterprises?

There will be increasing trading barriers for wood products. Demand and consumer tastes have changed following the economic crisis. People are more aware of issues of social responsibility and environmental protection.

Vietnamese enterprises therefore should increase their social awareness, work according to the law, improved the professionalism of their businesses and trading as well as their own capacity.

The export wood product sector has potential for development. What are the shortcomings that the Vietnamese enterprises need overcome?

Currently, domestic enterprises rely on foreign models, materials, prices and markets. Vietnamese enterprises haven’t focused enough on domestic business, nor have they developed strong trademarks.

Unskilled labour, backward technology and management and the small scale production are preventing local enterprises from working internationally.

The sector needs big enterprises or groups but there are not enough policies to encourage this.

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