B.C. Industry Mission Visits Vietnam

By: Vince Tran

Country Director, Canadian Wood Vietnam

Led by Forestry Innovation Investment Board Chair and Deputy Minister of Forests, Rick Manwaring, B.C. wood suppliers recently wrapped up a successful trade mission to Vietnam aimed at fostering relationships with wood products manufacturers.

Vietnam is Asia’s second largest exporter of wood furniture. Foreign retailers use factories in Vietnam to supply homes around the world with indoor and outdoor furniture. With the declining availability of hardwoods—and increasing global demand for wood from certified sustainable sources—manufacturers are looking for alternatives.

FII formally established a Vietnam office in 2022 to raise awareness of and expand opportunities for B.C. wood products in Vietnam’s furniture manufacturing sector.

Organized by FII, the mission was a first entry into the market for many senior industry representatives. The mission explored market dynamics, engaged with key stakeholders, and saw first-hand the successful trials of B.C. wood species in furniture production.

The program was centred around Vietnam’s furniture manufacturing district near Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). The delegation’s opening session included an introduction to Vietnam’s wood and manufacturing sector and FII’s market development strategy.

In addition to producing high-end furniture for resorts and hotels, the first company visited includes a 35-acre factory that also produces homes with engineered wood. Advanced technologies are applied to wood species, enabling the design of intricate yet load-bearing beams, arches and cladding. With a limited domestic supply, the company relies on wood from international markets.

FII Vietnam, branded as Canadian Wood, has been providing B.C. wood samples to this manufacturer to try as an alternative to radiata pine.

At the company’s head office, the delegation was welcomed to a display of windows and doors made from western hemlock. The company was proud to show off their latest display booth–the size of four tennis courts–featuring a deck, vertical cladding and external stairs made of treated western hemlock. Interior panelling consisted entirely of western hemlock, and the rafters of the lotus-leaf-shaped structure was made of spruce-pine-fir. The display was built for Vietnam’s largest furniture fair, in which 30,000 buyers attended.

The delegation was still absorbing the sophistication of the first manufacturer as they entered a 74-acre factory space that employs 5,000 people. The Taiwanese-owned factory uses the most advanced machinery and technology to produce indoor furniture. This factory exports upwards of 1000 containers per month of finished furniture products.  They have been testing B.C. wood species for potential use in its product lines with the support of FII Vietnam. 

The delegation spent four days touring factories and meeting lumber wholesalers.

It became apparent that industry in Vietnam is growing rapidly. The Vietnamese government supports industrial growth through various initiatives and incentives, including high-tech investments and infrastructure development. Special economic zones and industrial parks attract foreign investors. Vietnam’s furniture exports have shown steady growth over the past decade, solidifying its position as the world’s second-largest exporter of wooden furniture, behind China.

Canada and Vietnam are both members of the CPTPP trade agreement (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership). The agreement enables Canada and Vietnam to trade goods duty-free, eliminating tariffs for Canadian forest exports.

Marking the end of a successful mission to the market, delegates noted their continued support of FII’s ongoing market development efforts in Vietnam. Vietnam’s robust economic outlook, combined with a growing need for sustainably sourced wood species, continues to offer opportunity for B.C. softwood products.