Q: How do you assess the wood and forestry processing and exporting industry in 2021?
Deputy Minister Ha Cong Tuan: 2020 concluded with many difficulties, especially for the processing and export of wood and forestry products due to the serious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the entire economy.
However, the wood and forestry sector overcame all difficulties to gain export revenue of US$13.23 billion in 2020, up 19.7% over the previous year.
This was due to the great effort of forestry enterprises, associations and the Government in adapting to new market changes and promoting the application of digital technology in maintaining the market and selling products on both domestic and international markets.
The challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as problems in the market still remain in 2021. The forestry industry always faces lurking risks of tariff and other trade defence measures related to traceability, anti-commercial fraud and others.
With our experience and efforts, we still have a target of achieving forestry export turnover of over US$15 billion in 2021, equivalent to 2020.
Q: What problems do you think should be solved in order to achieve the set goals?
Deputy Minister Ha Cong Tuan: To achieve the set goals, I think we must handle problems relating to raw materials. Accordingly, the origin of imported wood must be controlled strictly along with sustainable forest management certification.
Meanwhile, enterprises should promote the application of digital technology on a larger scale in order to connect with the world. Digital technology should also be applied in corporate management and in monitoring the whole production cycle.
In addition, the State should implement specific mechanisms to support forestry enterprises in terms of land, logistics, traffic infrastructure, electricity and seaports.
In particularly, incentives on land rental should be provided for enterprises in the field to help them process and export timber and forestry products.
Q: The export of wood and forestry products was estimated at US$3.944 billion in the first quarter of 2021, up 41.5% over the same period last year, including US$3.699 billion worth of wood and wood product revenue, up 41.5%, and US$243 million worth of other forestry products, up 38.4%. However, many say these numbers still hide unsustainable aspects. In your opinion, which risks should we be most concerned about in 2021?
Deputy Minister Ha Cong Tuan: The wood industry is witnessing a general principle that the more it develops, the higher risks it will face. Currently, Vietnam’s wood industry is ranked 2nd in Asia, with a rapid growth rate of 16-17% per year.
The export target of US$15 billion for wood and forestry products in 2021 is a very significant number and a dream for many countries. Along with that, risk will increase with the biggest risk related to the market. However, we must comply on all the relevant regulations on traceability or product quality and should not be afraid of these.
In relation to the US market, Vietnam exported US$7.412 billion worth of wood and forestry products, up 34.7% compared to 2019. In the first quarter of 2021, export growth in this market was very high at 36-37%.
Enterprises in this field must obey the laws and regulations of this market while the role of the State is of great importance in maintaining this market.
These are the big issues we need to focus on to reach export turnover of about US$20 billion by 2025, as set out by the Government.
I think if we reach export turnover of US$15 billion in 2021, we will not have to wait until 2025 to fulfil the target of US$20 billion as we have established markets, detemination and strong internal strength.
Thank you, the Deputy Minister!
According to the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, the export of wood and forestry products was estimated at US$3.944 billion in the first quarter of 2021, up 41.5% over the same period last year, including US$3.699 billion worth of export revenue of wood and wood products, up 41.5%, and US$243 million worth of other forestry products, up 38.4%. Main export markets of Vietnam are the US, Japan, China, the EU, and the Republic of Korea which account for 90% of Vietnam’s total export revenue of wood and forestry products.