Professor Robert Smith and Assistant Professor Henry Quesada of the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials attended the 10th Annual Vietnam International Woodworking Industry Fair last fall. The visit was part of an international marketing project focused on identifying factors that impact the import of American hardwoods in Western European, Chinese, and Vietnamese markets.

Quesada and Smith interviewed American hardwood importers to understand current markets. In addition, they visited a furniture manufacturer and moulding facility that imports radiata pine from Chile and New Zealand, and yellow poplar from the United States.

According to government statistics, more than 300,000 people work in Vietnam’s furniture sector. The industry’s 16-percent growth over the past five years is due to low labor costs, excellent craft skills, and government incentives to attract foreign investments.

Appalachian companies such as American Hardwood Industries, Turman Group, and Baillie Lumber have already developed a market for hardwoods in Vietnam. Red and white oak, ash, and yellow poplar are the most sought-after products.