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Handicraft exports hampered by insufficiency of raw material
Jul '08
Insufficient supply of raw materials may prevent Vietnam from achieving its 2010 target of generating US $1.5 billion from rattan and bamboo products.

Some of the leading rattan and bamboo export firms have complained that despite substantial foreign orders, they were unable to meet international demand as suppliers between north and Binh Dinh Province lacked the potential to produce the required amount of processed rattan a day.

Although Vietnamese craftsmen are bagging considerable foreign contracts, they actually have to import more than 50 percent of the materials from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos to complete their orders. Industrialists believe that this problem is likely to persist unless the country becomes self-sufficient in producing the required raw materials.

Until then, reliance on imported goods will only weaken the competitiveness of Vietnamese craft especially since prices for the imported raw materials are mounting higher and higher.

In a period of one year, price of rattan has nearly doubled to touch VND9,000 against VND7,000 a kilo a year ago. Same goes for bamboo whose prices have also increased from VND7,000 to VND17,000 in 2007 and to VND30,000 by the middle of 2008.

Sluggish production of handicraft goods has also been attributed to shortage of labor in around 2,000 villages, where this handicraft operates out of households and as collective and private firms.

Although some of the provinces have taken up measures to resolve these problems, they are hardly meeting with any success. Some of the enterprises have even gone to the extent of scrapping their rattan planting projects due to paucity of capital.

Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have also been planting rattan for export and for handicraft production and are fetching billions of dollars every year. However, with Vietnam, the situation is getting a little topsy-turvy. The sector is in dire need of Government support in terms of a comprehensive strategy that would take the industry a step forward.

The country's export turnover from craft products in 2007 stood at over US $219 million, an increase of 14.4 percent against 2006. However, a lot more is expected on the production front if the industry has to survive stiff competition from other countries.

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