Wooden furniture manufacturers face material shortage
The lack of wood materials has once again caused difficulties for wooden furniture manufacturers.
According to the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (Viforest), Vietnam needs 31 million cubic meters of wood materials every year. The country still has 10 million hectares of natural forests, but they are mostly forests with poor reserves and low quality.
It has 3.8 million hectares of planted forests, including 2.7 million hectares of forests which provide wood for production.
Meanwhile, by the end of 2015, only 10-12 percent can provide wood with the quality and size good enough to make wooden furniture products. Rubber forests can provide 3 million cubic meters of wood each year.
Therefore, Vietnam needs additional wood material supply sources with a growth rate of 10-15 percent per annum.
Do Xuan Lap, chair of the Binh Dinh provincial Timber and Forest Product Association, in the context of material shortages, Chinese businesses operating under the mask of Vietnamese enterprises have set up many factories and units to collect wood for export to China.
The move by Chinese businesses may contribute to a ‘wood material crisis’.
The changes in policies related to timber exports applied by neighboring countries have encouraged Chinese businessmen to scramble for timber materials in the region.
In 2014, Myanmar prohibited the export of large-size round wood and sawn timber. In 2016, Laos released a similar decision. In 2015, the Chinese government prohibited to exploit timber in the natural forests in the northeast of the country.
To ease the thirst for wood materials, Chinese businessmen now compete with Vietnamese to collect wood in the countries which Vietnam imports from, and in Vietnam as well.
In 2015, China imported 107 million cubic meters of equivalent roundwood, worth $19.5 billion.
Since 2009, Chinese businesses began collecting sawn rubber timber in Vietnam, pushing up prices from VND3.5 million per cubic meter to VND5.6 million.
According to Forest Trends, the sawn rubber timber exports to China have soared from less than 120,000 cubic meters in 2015 to 170,000 in the first nine months of 2016.
“They (Chinese businessmen) collect all kinds of timber and accept both high- and low-quality products, thus hurting Vietnamese wooden manufacturers,” said Truong Mong TInh, director of Moc Luc Company in Binh Duong province.
“While the material supply is uncertain, wooden furniture prices must not increase,” she complained. “It is necessary for Vietnam to prohibit the export of roundwood, immediately."
Vietnam hopes the wooden furniture export turnover would reach $10 billion by 2020. In order to reach that goal, it would need 4-5 million cubic meters of wood materials more each year. However, this was a big challenge.
According to Bui Nhu Viet from BIFA, cajuput and acacia only provide wood with best quality after seven to 10 years of planting. However, Vietnamese farmers now prefer growing F4 and F5 with which they can harvest after four to five years, but the quality is not good enough.
Thanh Lich, VNN