Vietnamese furniture firms fear Chinese flood

By    October 6, 2016 | 01:00 am PT
Vietnamese furniture firms fear Chinese flood
A man in face mask working a wood product at a local furniture warehouse. Photo By VGP
An exodus of Chinese firms fleeing U.S. anti-dumping action instills fear in local furniture makers.

Vietnamese furniture manufacturers say Chinese furniture makers seeking to capitalize on the country's tariff-free trade with the United States will ultimately ruin it.

Last year, the U.S. imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made beds, nightstands and other wood products in an attempt to protect domestic manufacturers from undervalued foreign competition.

Ngo Sy Hoai, vice chairman of the Vietnam association of timber and wood products (Vifores), said the U.S. slapped tariffs ranging from 55 and 120 percent on Chinese furniture, while scrapping duties on similar goods coming out of Vietnam.

Many Chinese furniture companies responded by quickly moving their manufacturing to Vietnam. Official statistics hold that a third of Vietnam's foreign-invested furniture companies are Chinese-owned.

The Vifores executive predicted that these Chinese firms will soon enjoy the benefit of Vietnam's free trade agreements, like the pending Trans Pacific Partnership and EVFTA. He suggested local firms faced a significant threat from the rising quantity of low-priced products leaving Vietnam's ports. 

Huynh Van Hanh, vice chairman of Ho Chi Minh City’s association of handicraft and wood business, said Chinese companies have recently stepped up their efforts by acquiring majority stakes in local producers.

“An export surge, no matter what the industry, could lead to a situation in which Vietnamese companies are accused of dumping,” Hanh said.

Americans spend over $2 billion on Vietnamese furniture every year, a sum that makes up roughly 30 percent of the country's total exports, said To Xuan Phuc, an industry expert from Forest Trend. Furniture exports grow at 10 -15 percent annually, he added.

U.S. furniture imports from China total roughly $12 billion annually, according to data from the U.S. Customs Service.

Vietnam has exported more than $4 billion worth of wood products, globally, during the first nine months of the year, and is on track to achieve its target of $7.6 billion in 2016.

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