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Vietname: FTAs expected to pave the way for bigger apparel exports

In recent years, Vietnam’s garment and textile exports have registered an annual growth of 25-30 percent. Compared to world’s annual apparel consumption of about $350-400 billion, Vietnam’s share is still low but the prospects for the country’s garment and textile industry is good.

According to trade experts, free trade agreements (FTAs) between Vietnam , ASEAN and other countries, which are in force or under negotiations, are a useful tool to lift the industry’s turnover in the future. For example, the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which took effect in late 2009, opened major opportunities for the country’s growing industry as it regulates to cut all tariffs on apparel products to Japan to zero percent.

Vietnam shipped garment and textiles to Japan worth $882 million, a rise of 23.8 per cent compared to the same period last year for the first six months of this year, accounting for 13 per cent of the industry’s total export turnover.

Besides, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which involves Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, is also giving high hopes for Vietnam’s apparel industry to access and expand export to TPP members, particularly the US – a market consuming one quarter of the global garment and textile products.

The US is Vietnam ’s top importer, importing $5.1 billion worth of good last year and $3.5 billion in this year’s January-June period. Le Quoc An, a senior advisor to the Vietnam Garment and Textile Association, predicts Vietnam’s exports to the US in the next five years will double, if the TPP is signed.