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Vietnam garment exports to Japan to rise 20 pct   2009-09-24 - SGTT

Vietnam’s apparel shipments to Japan will surge 20 percent this year to US$1 billion, thanks to the new free trade agreement between the two countries, the Vietnam Garment and Textile Association said.

The association said up to 40 percent of garment export orders for the remaining months of the year are from Japan.

Under the Economic Partnership Agreement, Vietnam’s textile and garment products shipped to Japan will enjoy tax exemptions starting next month.

Nguyen Hong Trang, general director of lingerie producer Son Kim, said the agreement “will absolutely bring more orders to local exporters.”

Trang said her company plans to build a new factory next year to meet the rising demand from Japan.

Pham Xuan Hong, general director of Saigon 3 Garment Company, said the agreement would benefit Japanese importers, who would then offer to pay Vietnamese producers more.

Saigon 3 Garment, the largest Vietnamese jeans exporter to Japan, said it has even received many orders for the first half of next year.

But exporters also said it would be hard to boost shipments to Japan sharply, even with the free trade agreement, because they have to meet many strict requirements.

Hong said his company used to offer a wide range of products. Now it only focuses on making jeans and khaki trousers for the Japanese market as it is “the only way to ensure standard and output,” he said.

Son Kim’s Trang said exports to Japan are unlikely to advance suddenly since the market has set many strict standard barriers that many Vietnamese companies may find hard to overcome.

Japan is one of Vietnam’s biggest export markets, but Vietnamese products still hold a small share there, accounting for only 1.19 percent of total Japan’s imports, according to the Ministry of Industry.

About 92 percent of Vietnamese export products to Japan would be exempted from tariffs within 10 years under the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which the Japanese House of Councilors approved on June 24.

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