Vietnam furniture exports to the U.S. rose 31 percent to $1.82 billion last year, reports the International Trade Commission.

That dramatic growth could be boosted even further, as the Southeast Asian country devalued its currency, the dong, 7 percent last week - making its exports cheaper still. But financiers warn the benefit to Vietnam's furniture and other trade could be short lived.

Analysts from around the world said the currency devaluation will ultimately hurt the Vietnam's trade position, making imports more expensive and aggravating inflation. The Vietnamese government takes an active role in  developing export markets. The Vietnam Ministry of Industry & Trade and Ho-Chi-Minh City government will co-sponsor a wood furniture exhibition in Saigon March 11-14. Last year's show drew over 5,100 foreign visitors, including 798 from the U.S., the largest contingent.

VIFA, the government agency that runs the fair, announced that it is now part of a Southeast Asian fair circuit. "Joining the fair circuit will make more benefits to the wood industries of all member countries, and thanks to which, VIFA can also be further propagandized [sic] to potential international buyers, importers such as those from the USA, Japan, and other European countries," the show managers say at the show website.

The U.S. International Trade Commission says the U.S. imported nearly $14.8 billion in goods from Vietnam, with furnishings the second largest category (after apparel at $5.76 billion). The International Trade Commission, an arm of the Department of Commerce, lumps wood furniture in with bedding, cushions, lamps and lighting fittings, illuminated signs, nameplates and prefabricated buildings.

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