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Vietnamese fine arts and handicraft industry focuses on key export markets, including the US, European Union and Japan, to meet an export turnover target of US$1.5 billion by 2010.

Viet Nam’s fine art and handicraft exports have increased significantly in the past ten years, the numbers of countries importing these commodities has risen from 50 in 1996 to 133 by 2005. Vietnamese products are currently sold in almost all international markets.

Targeting hopes

The US market has the most potential as the import market of fine arts and handicrafts is valued at $13 million per month. As Vietnamese products only accounted for 1.5 per cent of this market in 2005, projected to increase to 3 per cent by 2010, valued at $0.4 billion. In 2006, Viet Nam exported $76.4 million of products to the US, a big increase from $0.7 million in 1997.

Export enterprises needed to find their own distribution channels in order to tap into the US market. Local makers and trade companies still lack study of customers’ preferences. Enterprises should concentrate on competitive yet distinctive products that are not manufactured in large quantities, because these were often more suitable for exporters’ production capabilities and capacity.

The European market is currently the most significant. In 2005, almost half of the largest importers of Vietnamese products were European, accounting for 42 per cent of export turnover of $241 million; the key European markets include France, Germany, Belgium and the UK.

The European market’s annual demand for handicraft products is about $7 billion, of which Vietnamese exports accounted for 5.4 per cent in 2005, aiming for an increase to 6.4 per cent by 2010, valued at around $0.6 billion.European importers value product quality, punctual deliveries, high environmental standards and effective customer services. Meeting these would spell success for Vietnamese exporters.

The Japanese market imports fine arts and handicraft products worth $2.9 billion of which Viet Nam accounted for 1.7 per cent in 2005. In 2006, Viet Nam exported $70.14 million on1.34 per cent of the nation’s total export to this market. Exports are expected to grow to 4 per cent of Japan’s total importation by 2010.

Measures put forward

Key measures for the industry to meet the overall target of $1.5 billion export revenues by 2010 include sustainable exploitation and development of raw materials and their sources, the establishment of a design and product development centre, vocational craft training and the issuance of preferential credits for small and medium sized enterprises.

The establishment of the Viet Nam Fine Arts and Handicraft Association recently in Ha Noi, together with the planned annual international fine arts and handicraft exhibition, are other measures that will boost production and exports.

Fine arts and handicrafts is listed as one of the spearhead industries for an export breakthrough by the Government export development programme for 2006-10. Due to its advantages of low capital requirements and high added value it is a highly efficient economic sector and strong foreign currency earner.  

Traditional export handicrafts include: pottery, embroidery, lacquer ware, wooden, wood-carved products, stone statures, art metal. The capacity of local makers remain a question mark since handicrafts have been made in traditional craft villages scattered around Hanoi and Hochiminh City and the major part has yet to adapt industrial production to meet worldwide demand.  An example is that half of the pottery export production in Bat Trang (the major pottery making village in Hanoi) is for orders by Ikea and Walmart only.


Source: VN Agency & Hanoi Group / Consulting (2007)



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