Vietnam glassmakers prefer comfort of home market

Most Vietnamese construction glassmakers are focusing on meeting local demand rather than promoting exports, say local industry leaders.
Viglacera Float Glass Co deputy director Luyen Cong Minh said …

Most Vietnamese construction glassmakers are focusing on meeting local demand rather than promoting exports, say local industry leaders. Viglacera Float Glass Co deputy director Luyen Cong Minh said that the company posted a modest export value of only about USD 5 million in 2007 despite having several orders of far higher value. He pointed to the high prices on the domestic market compared to export prices as a major reason for poor export turnover. Viglacera Dap Cau Sheet Glass Joint Stock Co general director Nguyen Thanh Tri said the company allocated only 5-10% of its output for exports with the remainder destined for domestic partners. Construction glass exports were considered a tool to regulate the market because firms only turned their thoughts to exports when local demand was low, Mr. Minh said. Vietnam Glass Association general secretary Le Minh Tuan also said that the rising price of raw materials and high transportation costs were major challenges that have made companies think twice about boosting exports. Glassmakers have given top priority to the domestic market as local demand was increasing, but with the current growth rate the time was right for glassmakers to step up exports, said Mr. Tuan. To this end, they should take steps to further improve product quality, increase output and find new markets, he suggested. Few Vietnamese glassmakers were able to produce the high quality float glass products demanded in international markets, leaving Cambodia and Thailand as the leading export markets. Upgraded operations at two plants producing high grade construction glass in Chu Lai Open Economic Zone in Quang Ngai Province, and in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, with a combined capacity of 1,200 tonnes per day, would help raise the ratio of quality glass to 73%, the association said. The glass sector would then be able to move more boldly on strict markets like Japan, Singapore and the US, it said. “Technological innovated, higher quality products and greater experience with strict export markets were the only ways for local glassmakers if they want to stay in business for a long time” concluded Mr. Tuan. The country was presently home to seven construction glassmakers with a combined capacity of over 1,600 tonnes per day, meeting 80% of demand on the domestic market, according to the Vietnam Glass Association. Domestic construction glass has been exported to several markets, including Cambodia, Thailand, India, Philippines, Malaysia and South Africa.