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Vietnam: Exports to EU targeted at $10.4 billion

Vietnam’s exports to the European Union will reach $10.4 billion in 2008, up 23.5% from last year’s total of $8.5 billion, forecast the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Footwear, garments and textiles, seafood, wood products and coffee were anticipated to remain the country’s key export staples to the EU market. Footwear exports to the EU were expected to earn $2.7 billion. The EU has an estimated $29 billion market annually for imported footwear and is Vietnam’s second-leading footwear importer following the US. Footwear exports to the EU last year amounted to $2.1 billion, a 7.2% EU market share for “Made in Vietnam” shoes. Garments and textiles were also forecast to bring in around $1.65 billion, although the EU’s lifting of a quota on garments and textiles from China this year were likely to have a negative impact on market growth for Vietnamese exports, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said.

In a move to minimize the impact, the ministry has required responsible agencies to more closely monitor the situation in order to advise exporters in a timely manner. Seafood exports to the EU were expected to reach $1.15 billion, a year-on-year rise of 25%, and wood products, around $780 million, a year-on-year surge of 30%. The nation’s coffee exports to the EU were forecast to fetch $820 million this year, a slight reduction from 2007 due to decreased domestic production output. The EU is the leading consumer of Vietnamese coffee, drinking up about half of the nation’s exports. To fully tap EU market potential, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is urging increased export of other products including heavy industry products and computer and electronic components.

Exporters should strengthen their footholds in Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands and Belgium while seeking new outlets in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, the ministry said. Vietnam has had a trade surplus with the EU for many years, with the EU market accounting for 18% of the country’s total trade turnover. (