Reported by the Sourcing Journal, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade recently approved its textile and garment sector development plan up to year 2030. Under the new plan, Vietnam sets an ambitious goal to achieve a 55% local content ratio for exported apparel by 2015 and will further increase the ratio to around 70% by 2030. As estimated, the plan will bring about an annual textile production growth rate of 12 to 13 percent between 2013 and 2030 in Vietnam.
Numerous studies have suggested that Vietnam could substantially expand its apparel exports to the world after the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement under negotiation by twelve countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including the United States and Vietnam. However, restrained by its stage of development, about 70—80% of Vietnam’s demand for textile inputs currently is imported (Lopez-Acevedo & Robertson, 2012). Based on 23 interviews, Goto (2007) further finds that apparel suppliers in Vietnam on average produced 67% CMT and 33% FOB based on value and 95% CMT and 5% FOB based on quantity.
But with the help of foreign investment from South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, Vietnam is quickly building up its textile manufacturing capacity (note: this is very different from the case in Mexico). According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, the number of textile firms in Vietnam had quickly increased from 408 in 2000 to 1,577 in 2008. Lopez-Acevdeo & Robertson (2012) further suggest that Vietnam’s annual production of cotton fiber has reached 10,000 tons; 50,000 tons of man-made fiber; 260,000 tons of short-staple fiber and yarn; 15,000 tons of knitted fabric; and 680 million meters of woven fabric. Around 38% of Vietnam’s textile output came from foreign invested companies in 2009.
Vietnam’s ambition to expand its domestic textile manufacturing capacity will have huge implications for the US-based textile industry. Although Vietnam seldom uses US-made textile inputs, Vietnam’s apparel exports to the United States directly compete with those exported from Mexico and countries in the Caribbean Basin regions which is the largest export market for U.S. made textiles (Lu & Dickerson, 2012). An expanded local textile manufacturing capacity will not only reduce Vietnam’s demand for imported textile inputs, but also will help improve the price competitiveness of Vietnam’s apparel exports in the global marketplace. If China increasingly moves its textile factories to Vietnam (unless the conflict between Vietnam and China over the South China Sea complicates the situation), Vietnam may further becomes a net textile exporter in the long run.