Exports to Japan remain strong

HCM CITY — Viet Nam's exports to Japan are increasing significantly, with many major orders expected to be signed in the near future.

Contrary to initial forecasts that Viet Nam's exports to Japan have dropped sharply after the latter was hit by an earthquake and tsunami, Vietnamese companies, especially seafood exporters, are very busy completing contracts to export to Japan, according to Ly Van Thuan, general secretary of the Ca Mau Province's Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors.

Orders from Japanese partners to import Vietnamese commodities, including food, rose sharply in recent days, with prices still at high levels, Thuan said.

He said that the Japanese people were in a great need of food such as frozen shrimp and catfish.

Ho Quoc Luc, general director of Soc Trang Fisheries Import-Export Company (Fimex), said that many Japanese consumers did not want to buy food from localities and nearby countries because of fear that the food had been contaminated by radiation following the nuclear plant breakdown.

Food products from Viet Nam were believed to be safer, Luc said.

Many of Fimex's Japanese partners have even asked the company to deliver the commodities in advance of the delivery date to meet Japanese demand.

Sai Gon Garment Joint Stock Company has signed three contracts worth a total of US$60 million in exports to Japan until the year-end.

To date, no changes had been made on these orders by Japanese partners, and they would be carried out as signed, said the company's chairman Pham Xuan Hong.

At major seaports in HCM City including Cat Lai, Tan Cang and Phuoc Long, the volume of exports to Japan have increased day by day, with many different kinds of items, including girdle cakes, shrimp pastry, rice vermicelli, seafood, fruit, clothing, building materials and plywood furniture.

A representative of Cat Lai Seaport said since March 11 the port had received commodities worth a total of nearly $1 million for export to Japan.

More orders likely

Many Vietnamese exporters also believe that orders from Japan will likely increase beginning from the third quarter of the year.

Nguyen Ton Quyen, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Wood and Forestry Products Association, said that Japanese had begun to rebuild their country after the disaster, so the demand for goods, particularly construction materials and furniture, was very high.

Recently, the association met with many export brokers who wanted to buy Vietnamese building materials and furniture to sell to Japanese builders.

The company, however, wanted to directly sell its products to Japanese builders in order to consolidate its foothold in this market, he said.

According to market analysts, if Vietnamese wood processers can take advantage of current opportunities, they should be able to increase their export turnover in the Japanese market, from $454 million last year to nearly $1 billion this year.

Pham Minh Huong, deputy director of Phong Phu Fabric Joint Stock Company, also believed that her company's orders from Japan would increase in the coming months since many Japanese importers wanted to diversify their import markets to reduce risks by shifting a part of their business from China to Viet Nam.

Currently, many Japanese companies had come to Phong Phu company to place orders, Huong said. "We hope we can reach a growth rate of 15 per cent to the Japanese market by year-end. Our belief is based on a result that Phong Phu exported $4 million in the first quarter of this year."

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