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Once timber rich, Viet Nam faces shortage, import increase
08 | 06 | 2007
Viet Nam, once rich in forest resoources, is now forced to import more than 80 per cent of its timber supplies from abroad, making it one of the world’s biggest importers.

Timber is big business. At present there are more than 3,000 enterprises using it for furniture, wood craft, construction, paper and cardboard. The list of manufacturers is still growing fast.

This year’s export revenue from finished timberproducts is expected to reach US$2,4 billion, $300,000 more than last year.

While the number of forest enterprises increases, the quantity of timber grown in Viet Nam is decreasing. This has led to a severe shortage of timber, despite the creation of large areas of plantation forests.

Timber is imported from many countries, such as Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, China, the United States and New Zealand. Malaysia and Laos are the two main suppliers.

However, Malaysia recently restricted timber exports and once again, Vietnamese timber-related industries are facing new difficulties.

Having to import timber is disadvantageous for manufacturers, especially export enterprises. Being dependent on suppliers decreases the competitiveness of Vietnamese timber products.

In many cases, when insufficient timber is available or very costly, some enterprises can not fulfill their contracts. This can threaten long-term business relationships.

In the long term, creating domestic sources of timber is the answer. Viet Nam still has vast areas of forest land that can be used for plantations.

Efforts to increase the area under plantations have generally been ineffective, according to forestry experts. Steps are now being taken to correct this situation.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, by 2020, plantations will be able to supply 20 million cubic metres of timber.

To reach this goal, there needs to be more planning, investment and co-operation among various sections of the timber products chain



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