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Promoting Handicraft Exports to Japan
20/12/2013

The Representative Office of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency ( Vietrade) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade collaborated with the ASEAN – Japan Trade, Investment and Tourism Promotion Centre (AJC) to organise a conference themed “Enhancing design capacity and market access for Vietnam handicraft and interior decorations in Japan” on January 15, 2013, in Ho Chi Minh City. The event was a golden opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to promote handicraft exports to the Japanese market.

Delivering a speech at the conference, an Vietrade official said that nearly 40 years after the two sides established diplomatic relations, Japan has become an important partner of Vietnam in many aspects, including politics, economics, trade, investment and tourism. In recent years, Japan is the third largest trading partner and the second largest export market of Vietnam. This workshop was an opportunity for businesses and organisations to access information, understand consumer tastes and market trends to create the best designs and promote Vietnam’s exports in general, and highly valued handicraft items in particular, to the Japanese market.

According to commercial statistics, bilateral export turnover topped US$21 billion in 2011, of which Vietnam earned US$11 billion, an increase of 39 per cent over the previous year. The Ministry of Industry and Trade said Vietnam’s exports to Japan valued more than US$13 billion in 2012, up 21.4 per cent from 2011. Japan is a big importer of handicrafts, despite volatility. Vietnam’s handicrafts exported to Japan helped boost its earnings from this market.

Ceramics, wooden and rattan furniture are Vietnam’s main handicrafts exported to Japan. These items accounted for most of Vietnam’s furniture export value to Japan.

Mr Hiroshi Sakamoto, CEO of Japan’s Sense of Life, a corporate consulting company, said despite economic slowdown and weakening purchasing power, Vietnam’s exports, including handicrafts, still gain the trust of Japanese consumers.

Speaking of the distribution system, he cited that Japan has department stores (Isetan Takashimaya), shopping malls (Lalaport and Aeon Mall), convenience stores (United Arrows and Cibone), retail stores at train stations (Lumine), and discount stores (Dongkihotei). However, together with the positive process of businesses expanding distribution channels and the merger of different distribution channels; expanding and developing sale networks of distribution channels, merging several distribution channels: Fashion shops cooperate with household electrical appliances; increasing e-commerce at large general stores and retail outlets; will be major trends in the coming time. He recommended that Vietnamese businesses capture these tendencies to work out appropriate export strategies.

When exporting to Japan, Vietnamese businesses are recommended to handle customer requests quickly, ensure punctual delivery and product quality, have high after-sales customer care, clarify origins of supplies, not employ child labour, and understand producers.

According to experts, product design is the gravest barrier for Vietnamese companies at the present time. To boost handicraft export to Japan in the coming time, they must enhance product designs and, while enhancing design, raise the usability of the product. In addition, they should consider creating localised, unique products for Vietnam which also suit the tastes of Japanese consumers.

An AJC representative said AJC will send its specialists to advise companies on design standards and products for the Japanese market. Besides, AJC will choose four companies to attend the Interior Lifestyle in Tokyo in June 2013. Chosen exhibits include home textiles; embroideries, curtains, blankets, pillows, bags; and home decoration items like lamps and photo frames; gifts, lacquer, ceramics, bamboo, rattan, kitchen utensils, etc.

AJC also sent experts to Vietnam to work in Ninh Binh province from January 17 to 19, 2013 and attended the conference themed “Enhancing design capacity and market access for Ninh Binh province’s handicrafts and interior decorations in Japan” on January 17, 2013 at Dong Thanh Export Import Co., Ltd based in Ninh Binh City, Ninh Binh province. Then, experts visited and worked with some companies to advise them on product development and quality improvement

Source: VCCI

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