80 pct US, EU buyers delay timber orders

By Dat Nguyen   April 16, 2020 | 10:00 am GMT+7
80 pct US, EU buyers delay timber orders
Employees manufacture wood products at a factory in the northern province of Tuyen Quang. Photo courtesy of Woodsland.

Eighty percent of timber buyers from the U.S. and E.U. have delayed or canceled their orders as of March 30 due to the novel coronavirus impacting trade.

The cancellation and delay rate in South Korea and Japan is 60-80 percent, which could result in severe damage to Vietnam’s timber industry this year, the Association of Vietnam Timber and Forest Product (Viforest) reported.

Vu Hai Bang, CEO of Woodsland, one of the largest timber exporters in the country, said within two weeks, many buyers in the U.S. and E.U. had cancelled their orders, and that he’ll have to wait another seven weeks for orders to hopefully reboot.

Nguyen Duc Kien, deputy director of Kego Co. Ltd., which exports plywood to South Korea and Japan, said the company now exports five containers a month, compared to 50 before the pandemic. It has not received any new order starting May.

Viforest’s survey of 124 wood exporters show over half have had to scale down their business due to the pandemic.

Most businesses will have to stop operations by the end of this month, the association said.

Firms estimate a total damage of at least VND3 trillion ($128 million) due to canceled or delayed orders.

Respondents said over 21,400 employees are temporarily out of work, and Vifores estimates hundreds of thousands in the industry face unemployment as wood craft villages nationwide employ over 350,000 people.

Canceled orders also put more pressure on finances. Bang said Woodland will struggle to pay its debts from April to June.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan said timber exporters are allowed to delay their tax payment and land use fees by five months according to government policy.

Vietnam’s timber exports last year rose 19.5 percent to $10.6 billion, ranking seventh out of the 10 largest export categories, according to Vietnam Customs. The biggest markets are the U.S., Japan, China, South Korea and the E.U.

 
 
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