The Secretariat of the National Value Programme under the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Ministry of Industry and Trade) recently hosted a ceremony in Hanoi to announce national values for handicraft sector, called Vietcraft Excellence. This is an opportunity for the Vietnamese handicraft sector to strengthen its position and expand exports to foreign markets, including Europe.
Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa said the handicraft sector has played an important role in adding economic value for every locality in particular and the country in general. In addition to economic value, handicrafts are imbued with cultural identity and national images.
According to statistics, Vietnam’s handicraft export value increased by 8 percent year on year to US$1.6 billion in 2014, accounting for 1.5 percent of the world’s market share. Products made from rattan, bamboo, ceramics and porcelain have been exported to the United States, Germany, Japan, France, the United Kingdom while wooden furniture has been shipped to Japan, the United States, Germany, France, Sweden and South Korea. Europe and North America are the two biggest importers of Vietnamese handicraft. These two markets are further tightening regulations on standards on handicraft products imported from developing countries such as Vietnam. The construction and development of national brands for this sector will help improve international competitiveness for handicrafts.
Mr Do Nhu Dinh, Chairman of the Vietnam Handicraft Exporters Association (Vietcraft), emphasised that in the context of deeper integration, in addition to expanding market opportunities, the handicraft industry of Vietnam has faced with numerous challenges. First of all, the competitiveness of countries in the region is enhanced when they mechanise production to turn out a large volume of goods at lower prices. Besides, consumers are stricter with products and give a priority to products made from sustainable producers and products with added values representing national cultural characteristics. This requires product differentiation and national cultural presentation in products. The unique difference of Vietnamese handicrafts is based on sustainable links. All value chains in production, from raw material, processing to distribution, are sustainable. The core value of Vietnamese handicrafts is sustainable value.
Regarding the initiative of branding handicrafts (Vietcraft Excellence), he explained that Vietcraft Excellence is built on strong ecological, economic, social and cultural sustainability. This is also the commitment to building the sustainable handicraft sector of Vietnam, positively contributing to the national sustainable development strategy and green growth strategy of Vietnam, and providing sustainable employment for workers.
To gain this national trade name, Vietcraft Excellence, a business must meet 46 criteria on the Vietnamese handicraft sector’s sustainable values, from production to consumption. With this trade name, Vietnamese handicraft businesses can improve their competitiveness in both domestic and international markets and have more opportunities to access the European market, an important outlet for products of the Vietnamese handicraft sector, with annual export turnover of EUR550 million.
Mr Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission, said the EU is a major destination of Vietnamese handicrafts. EU consumers increasingly want safe and sustainable products and this is an opportunity for Vietnam to tap this market. He also hoped that, with Vietcraft Excellence, Vietnamese handicrafts will have better opportunities of market development, build image and affirm the name on the world market.