Large potential for Swedish Wood in Vietnam

During Vietnam Wood (18-21 Oct at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre, HCMC), Swedish sawmillers gathered in a Swedish Wood pavilion and presented a seminar supported by HAWA, BIFA and FPA Binh Dinh.

Swedish Ambassador Pereric Hogberg addressing the audience at the seminar

Participants at a seminar held by Swedish Wood on Oct 18

Swedish Ambassador Pereric Hogberg opened the seminar by comparing the size and population of Sweden and Vietnam. Vietnam is two-thirds the size of Sweden but has 100 million people compared to only 10 million in Sweden.  Their relationship goes back to 1969 when Sweden was the first western country to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam. The ambassador declared he was impressed with Vietnam’s economic development over the last 10 years and equally impressed by the Vietnamese people’s concern for safety, sustainability and quality of their air, water and food. Such concerns would have an impact for wood too. Vietnam is a major hub for wood processing and is the world’s 5th largest exporter of wood products and wood furniture with exports expected to reach USD 10 billion by 2020. He confirmed Sweden’s commitment to sustainable forest management and with 70 per cent of the country covered by forest there are huge opportunities for Swedish wood, “I think there is a large potential for Swedish wood suppliers to supply to Vietnamese manufacturers so that high quality and sustainable raw material is used for production.” 

Mr Huynh Van Hanh, vice president of HAWA said that Vietnam had to import to supplement their production needs not only because of resource but also to satisfy the diverse needs of international customers. In 2016 Vietnam imported USD 1.7 Bn of wood and the demand for legal wood was increasing since Vietnam had signed a VPA-FLEGT agreement with the EU. Mr Hanh recognised that Swedish Wood had been present in Vietnam for more than 15 years but hoped they could increase their marketing activity.

Mr Tran Le Huy from FPA, Bin Dinh observed that Sweden produced excellent softwood used for windows, doors and panels but there were distance and logistics issues so New Zealand and Chile were closer alternatives.

Mr Luu Phuoc Loc (John), general director of BIFA stressed the importance of Binh Duong province where his 180 members are based as it is close to HCMC, the sea port and airport. These enterprises need improved technology and improved management, he said. Most wood material was imported from the USA – white oak, ash, beech, yellow poplar while Rubberwood and acacia comes from Vietnamese plantations. He welcomed the participation of Swedish Wood and hoped they could increase their market share.

Ms Charlotte Dedye Apelgren, director Interior and Design, Swedish Wood, reported that total softwood exports to Vietnam had increased over the past four years to 460,000 cbm (44,000 cbm from Sweden to Vietnam). Sweden is the largest European supplier of softwoods to Vietnam consisting of sawn lumber, glue edged boards, profiles, glulam and CLT (Cross Laminated Timber for construction). Ms Apelgren’s analysis of current design trends had revealed four trends with increased demand for:

  1. renewable materials
  2. toxic free materials
  3. healthy products to improve wellbeing
  4. versatile materials to adapt to our changing needs

She then showed that Swedish wood can respond to all these demands as it is renewable and non-toxic with research from Canada and Europe finding that time spent in a wood environment lowers blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels. Furthermore Swedish wood can take many different shapes, textures and colours.

Discussions going on at Swedish Wood at the 12th VietnamWood held October 18 – 21

Technical aspects of Swedish wood were described and illustrated from the difference between the two main species: pine (Pinus slvestris) and spruce (Picea abies).

Total softwood exports to Vietnam increased over the past four years to 460,000 cubic metres in 2016, of which 44,000cbm is from Sweden. It is the largest European supplier of softwoods to Vietnam consisting sawn and planed timber. It also supplies glue-edged boards, profiles, glulam and cross laminated timber to other markets.

East Asia now accounts for 15 per cent of Sweden’s total exports of sawn and planed timber, a value reaching US$500 Mn. Sweden’s largest markets are Japan and China but Vietnam is seeing increasing demand. Last year sales of sawn timber from Sweden to Vietnam rose by 86 per cent.


All images: Swedish Wood