Trends and News for SMBs | June 15-30

Trends and News for SMBs | June 15-30
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Keep your business up to speed with the latest news.

Vietnam scales the top of the furniture exports ladder  

Vietnam has regained its pole position as the top furniture exporter to the United States for 2022, pipping its close rival China to the top spot and widening the gap, Furniture Today reported.  

Since 2020 the two countries’ furniture industries have been engaged in a close rivalry – both vying for the prestige of being the leading exporter to the US. In 2020 Vietnam took the top spot for the first time – taking advantage of the trade war between China and the US to boost its domestic industry. One year later, China narrowly recaptured the top spot, exporting just $17.5 million dollars more furniture in 2021 than its leading competitor.  

This year, however, the figures were decisively in favor of Vietnam – whose furniture exports were worth nearly $700 million more than China’s in 2022, rising 7% year-on-year to nearly $9.7 billion. China’s furniture exports fell by 7% to about $8.5 billion dollars.   

Wooden furniture was one of the key contributors to Vietnam’s success – helping it widen its advantage. Analysis from Furniture Today shows that the 7% gain was primarily due to increased exports of miscellaneous wood furniture, wood bedroom furniture, and wood beds.  

China saw gains in the category of outdoor metal seats with textile-covered cushions and metal frame upholstered seats. However, it saw double-digit losses in categories like wood frame upholstered seats, chairs, and miscellaneous wood furniture. China continues to enjoy greater prestige in terms of design, but Vietnam is benefiting from several factors. These include access to the rich forest resources of Southeast Asia. With fewer restrictions on logging than in China, Vietnam has access to cheaper wood.    

Meanwhile, the US government has imposed tariffs of almost 25% on most home furniture products made in China. Increasing numbers of Chinese companies are choosing to build factories in Vietnam to sidestep rising tariffs. Vietnam remains largely dependent on China for parts and raw materials, leading to a large trade deficit with China.  

  

Seoul Fashion Week shifts dates to capitalize on art fair buzz   

South Korean capital Seoul is attempting to capitalize on the growing international success of its fashion designers and art scene by shifting the date of the city’s biannual fashion week to capture more international attention, Vogue reported.    

Until now, the Seoul Fashion Week has been held in March and October but has failed to win the desired attention of international fashion buyers and influencers. Now organizers are moving the autumn fair to September to coincide with the prestigious international art fair Frieze Seoul. Seoul Fashion Week SS24 will run from 5 to 9 September at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Frieze arrived in the Korean capital for its Asian debut last September, generating an international buzz that organizers hope will rub off on the fashion week.  

Frieze was launched in London in 2003. Last year’s Seoul show led to long queues and the participation of some of the art world’s biggest gallery names, including Gladstone Gallery and Pace Gallery. The event has given the city’s reputation as an Asian art center a considerable boost.  

Fashion Week will also coincide with other leading cultural events, including another art fair, Kiaf Seoul, the public art initiative Seoul Light and the trade event Seoul Beauty Week.  

Organizers are promising collaborations between frieze artists and Fashion Week designers but have not yet given further details. So far, there has been no word yet on whether major Korean labels like Hyein Seo, Andersson Bell, and Minjukimi are planning to take part. However, organizers hope more established Korean brands will follow the example of high-profile newcomer We11done and attend the fair.   

The new date faces stiff competition. Fashion weeks in China, Japan, and New York will all compete for international fashion buyers’ attention during the same period. However, the growing influence of a wave of South Korean culture across Asia, termed hallyu, will present a tempting opportunity for international fashion buyers looking for something different.      

 

North Carolina’s Wilmington beats other US ports on berthing times  

Containerships calling at North Carolina’s ports of Wilmington spent fewer hours at berth than at any other US port in 2022.  

The latest global port performance report from the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence found that the Port of Virginia – previously the US’s best-performing port – had slipped to the number two spot. Overall US ports continue to be poor performers compared to leading ports worldwide.  

Of the 348 ports measured, Savannah took the bottom place – occupying the 348th spot. The Ports of New York and New Jersey came in at a disappointing 306, Los Angeles 336, and Long Beach 346. However, Wilmington and Virginia did considerably better, coming in at 44 and 52, respectively.  

China’s heavily-automated Yangshan, a showpiece for the latest remote port technologies, took the number one spot. Other ports to make the top 10 ranking included Ningbo and Guangzhou, as well as Oman’s Port of Salalah.  

Canada fared little better than the US – with its leading port, Vancouver, coming second to last at 347 and last compared to ports of a similar size.  

However, the report found that worldwide operational efficiency had improved significantly following the pandemic. After the disruption triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, backlogs continue to clear.   

This is only the third edition of the report, and it is still unclear to what extent the rankings will represent long-term performance once the effects of the pandemic have completely subsided. However, the report argued that many ports could considerably benefit from the digitalization of processes and infrastructure modernization. The authors pointed out that while it might seem that Covid-related disruption was responsible for poor performance at North American ports, Yangshan Port was also affected by the heavy disruption caused by typhoons and other factors in 2022.  

Other top performers worldwide included Khalifa port in Abu Dhabi and Tanger Med, as well as the Colombian port of Cartagena and the Malaysian port of Tanjung Pelepas.  

 

Philippine’s Marcos targets trade deals and looks to boost exports  

Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is targeting free trade deals with some of the world’s major economies as he seeks to turn his country into an export powerhouse, Business World reported.   

Marcos said that the Philippines is due to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea and is looking to sign similar deals with the EU and US.   

“We want to open markets so that the Philippines will be able to export to an import from trading partners, so it’s not one way. What we have to do is allow ourselves to restructure some of the elements within the law so that we can compete on an even basis,” he said.  

Marcos has also urged Philippine exporters to become industrial consumers of products sold by the Philippines’ leading trading partners.   

“That is why we have to (raise) our export game… and support our exporters so they can compete in foreign markets… not only as suppliers but also industrial consumers,” he said.   

After winning a landslide victory in last year’s election, Marcos announced that the Philippine Export Development Plan would require the government to increase infrastructure construction, especially projects which increase transport connectivity. He has also pledged to improve the ease of doing business and simplify regulations governing businesses.  

“It is true our total exports are growing. However, within the larger context of international trade, we fall behind our ASEAN neighbors,” he said.  

Marcos has said that one of the keys to boosting exports will be to support the country’s small businesses. “It has become clearer to us what the evolving export landscape looks like now. We believe that we need to work closely with individual firms to be able to take care of their needs as they venture into a potential export business for their companies.”  

 

Chinese trade fairs reflect continued dominance in the toy market  

International toy buyers will be preparing for the China Toy Expo, due to take place in October 

The event will be held between October 17 and 19 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. Organizers promise to offer 220,000 square meters of floor space, 2500 exhibitors, and 500,000 featured products to more than 100,000 domestic and international buyers.   

China’s toy industry saw dramatic growth in the early stages of the pandemic as its factories intensified production in response to closures across many other toy manufacturing countries.   

Since then, a global economic downturn, bloated retailers’ inventories, and increasingly protectionist measures within the US have posed a challenge for Chinese toy manufacturers.  

But the China Shantou International Toys and Gifts Fair was held in April, and officials say the fair saw a record number of deals being signed. That event marked the return of international buyers to China after three years of isolation. More than $1.57 billion worth of deals were signed during the events, according to state newspaper The Global Times.  

In recent years China has faced an increasing challenge from India – which is positioning itself as another major toy manufacturer. India’s government has announced plans to subsidize the local toy industry, though it remains 200 times smaller than its Chinese counterparts.   

According to data from Statistica, China still accounts for more than 70% of global toy production and 56% of global exports.   

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Narendra Modi promised in August 2020 to make India a global toy hub. A year later, India was still importing 80% of its toys.  

Vietnam is also an increasingly important player in the toy market. 

 

 

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