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Handicraft exporters dig Japanese taste

Recent trends in Japanese lifestyles and consumer consumption were discussed in a meeting yesterday between Japanese trade experts and local handicraft businesses in the northern province of Ha Tay, home to several fineart villages.

The event was organised by the trade ministry’s Trade Promotion Agency and the Ha Tay Trade Department under the framework of the ASEAN-Japan Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism to bolster the export of fineart products to Japan.

Around 70 fineart manufacturers and exporters from Ha Tay and neighbouring areas were updated on key issues related to exporting to Japan, including market studies, advertising and the Japanese penchant for hand-made products.

Traditional handicraft exports to Japan account for between 10 and 29 per cent of Viet Nam’s total export turnover in fineart products each year, said deputy director of the Trade Promotion Agency Nguyen Bao. He said Viet Nam ranks third among fineart exporters to Japan, behind China and Thailand and that Vietnamese handicraft exports represent 9 per cent of total Japanese fineart imports.

The agency official added that a weak point in Viet Nam’s handicraft industry is poor design, which reduces the competitiveness of local products. Local firms then lose out to China and Thailand, Viet Nam’s main rivals in handicrafts exports, Bao said.

Japanese consultants said their country’s appetite for fineart products is diverse and ever-changing, requiring exporters to be dynamic and sensitive to consumer demands.

They said domestic handicraft enterprises must take advantage of several variables in their favour, including low manufacturing costs attributable to abundant raw materials, low requirements for supporting material imports, the abundance of skilled artisans and low labour costs.

Local business representatives in turn said they were short on information on the Japanese consumer market, and planned schemes to develop and promote their products. They said they were determined to overcome any disadvantages to exploit the Japanese market as well as that of other countries.

A trade ministry report said Viet Nam posted earnings of US$500 million in handicrafts exports to 37 countries over the first seven months of this year. Sector predicted profits would increase substantially when exporters better develop export strategies to importers like Japan.

Vietnamnews - (29/09/2005)

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