Vietnam spent about $1.9 billion on importing about 2.1 million tons of paper, including scrap paper, in 2018. According to an online article from China’s Xinhua news agency, the Ministry of Industry and Trade reported Jan. 10 that Vietnam increased its spending by 14.2 percent compared with 2017 and it increased its import volume by about 6.1 percent compared with 2017.
In December 2018, Vietnam imported about 210,000 tons of paper worth $172 million, mainly from China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. That is up about 24.7 percent in volume and up 13.6 percent in value, according to a news release from Xinhua.
About 70 percent of Vietnam’s total paper output is made from recovered paper, and about 60 percent of the recovered paper are imports, the ministry’s Industry Agency told Xinhua.
Dan Gee, senior associate at Atlanta-based Moore & Associates, says Vietnam is one of several Southeast Asian countries that has seen increased paper imports in the past year. Other countries include India, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Laos, Philippines and Malaysia.
Gee says China’s import policy changes the past two years have propelled strong growth in recovered paper imports in Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam.
“These countries all have been importing some recovered paper, but the whole China import situation has really fast-forwarded development and unprecedented growth,” he says.
In Vietnam in particular, Gee adds that China-based Nine Dragons Paper invested in the Cheng Yang Paper mill several years ago. That mill, based in the Binh Duong Province, is up and running, adding demand in the country. Lee & Man Paper is also building a mill in the Hau Giang Province which is scheduled to open in late 2019.
Vietnam’s demand for paper is estimated to grow 8 to 10 percent annually in the next couple of years, while the country exports about $1 billion of paper each year, mainly to China and the United States.
With new mills and continued investment in Vietnam, Gee says there will be continued growing demand for recovered fiber in the country in 2019 and beyond. He says new mill capacity in other Southeast Asian countries is also expanding as a result of China’s policies. Existing mills in many of these Southeast Asian countries are different from what recyclers are used to in China—many of them are small- to medium-sized mills that have higher quality requirements—but they still provide opportunities to move recovered fiber abroad. New mill development will add new technology, which is positive for the industry, adds Gee.
“Vietnam is continuing to grow steadily and will be a good market, along with these other countries in combination,” he says.