Today: 16 May 2004
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Finding ways out for fine arts craft businesses

With the abundant supply of material such as bamboo, rush, reed, water fern and banana areca, Vietnamese makers of fine art handicraft products, with their skilful hands, are becoming more popular in the world market. However, export turnover from these products could only bring in US $300 million per year only accounting for 5% of the world market. The unplanned production of these products is a major obstacle for these businesses to prosper.

Most buyers of Vietnamese handicraft products are foreigners and many of them find these products attractive thanks to their unique designs and use of natural materials. However, many of them complained about the quality of products, including harmful paints present in lacquer products and sharp edges in bamboo products. Customers are willing to pay more for refined products. Many businesses started following these production patterns. Tien Dong company, for example, had a very careful check of products prior to export and thanks to its effort, the company is able to sign a contract with IKEA, a well known company dealing in handicraft in Europe.

Another common feature of Vietnamese businesses making handicraft products is the use of email and the world wide web to enhance their sales but not many of them are able to do so regularly and professionally. They still lack market information to support their designs. Many of them, after being able to find market and customers, are unable to supply enough products to meet large orders.

Since most of these businesses are of small scale, they are unable to offer competitive prices for their products as larger scale production facilities can. Also, since most producers are private households living in rural areas with many disadvantages, deadlines are hard to meet, which make delivery contracts with foreign partners of exporters hard to honour, negatively affecting the business. Another disadvantage is the lack of co-operation among these businesses in carrying out large orders. They also have difficulties in dealing with banks and payments for the products.

To find the way out, businesses will have to team up, promote their products in foreign markets and improve quality, designs and diversify their products to meet the market demand. A better management and production system is called for to enhance production, quality and capacity of these businesses to meet large orders. Secure material supply with careful planning is called for also with trademark registration and protection, which are becoming more vital to the development of the trade.

Vietnam is expected to earn US $350 million from export of handicraft products in 2003. To make handicraft a leading products for export, businesses and authorities are required to spare no effort for the development of the industry.

VNCG-VDC1 - (12/11/2003)

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