Exporters look to sell more to US

By Anh Minh, Dat Nguyen   July 17, 2020 | 12:30 am PT
Exporters look to sell more to US
Shipping containers are stacked at a port in Hai Phong, northern Vietnam. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
Vietnamese manufacturers are seeking to increase their exports to the U.S. by improving product quality and meeting the demands of consumers there.

Royal Crystal Jsc in June exported the first batch of stone plastic composite to the U.S. after building a plant capable of producing 8.7 million square meters a year.

To enter the U.S. market, the company bought the rights for a tile locking system from a U.S. company, acquired and merged two distributors of construction materials in the U.S., and employed locals there.

"Exporting to the U.S. requires a Vietnamese exporter to ensure a large supply of products."

It plans to export a new eco-friendly product next month.

Vietnam’s 10 years of export growth ended in the first half of this year when the coronavirus caused exports to contract by 2.1 percent year-on-year to $238.4 billion.

Yet exports to the U.S. rose 10.3 percent to $30.3 billion. The U.S. remained Vietnam’s largest market, buying $10 billion more than the next largest, China.

The top export items to the U.S. included computers and electronics, textile and garment, machinery and equipment, agriculture produce, footwear, wood, and seafood, according to Vietnam Customs.

Nguyen Ngo Vi Tam, CEO of seafood exporter Vinh Hoan Corp., said the company expects shipments to the U.S. to rise in July as some states there have eased their lockdown and allowed economic activities to resume.

Restaurants and hotels, not individuals, are the main buyers of Vinh Hoan products there, and therefore the lifting of restrictions means rising consumption, she said.

Experts said entering the U.S. market is a challenging task. Bui Kim Thuy of the US–ASEAN Business Council said the U.S. is a difficult market with high quality requirements, but Vietnamese exporters meeting them would be able to access a large and growing market.

Vietnamese companies need to ensure high quality and traceability of their products to go there, she said.

Diep Thanh Kiet, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association, said most U.S. buyers order from original design manufacturers, but only around 20 percent of Vietnamese footwear makers design their own products.

Designing products requires deep pockets, which most small and medium-sized Vietnamese companies lack, he pointed out.

"The U.S. market also has high requirements in terms of environment and social responsibility. Companies that do not meet these criteria will not be able to enter."

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