The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has forecast that the country will become the second largest garment exporter to the US in 2008, second only to China.

The ministry predicted that its textile and apparel exports to the US would fetch US$5.4bn during the current fiscal year.

In the first quarter of 2008, Vietnamese textile and apparel industry witnessed a stable US export value growth rate of 31% over the same period last year, while other countries like Mexico, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and even China suffered strong drops in the US market.

According to the MOIT, China's garment exports to the US dropped 10% during the first quarter of the year.

The US International Trade Committee (ITC) placed Vietnam among the 30 biggest exporters to the US market in 2007, said the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Vietnam has been in the top five exporters of textile and garment to the US in the three consecutive years, with an export value of US$4.29bn per year.

Vietnam's hurdles to the US include the textile and garment monitoring scheme, labour related difficulties and a strong increase in the price of materials.

It was buoyed by an announcement early this month that the US Department of Commerce that Vietnam was not currently 'dumping' textiles and garments in the US market.

By Ngo Tuan.