Craft villages in the process of international integration

(VOVworld) – Vietnam has many traditional craft villages which for years, have contributed to the national economy. In the current international integration, Vietnam’s craft village economy is likely to enjoy many development opportunities, but at the same time face numerous challenges.

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VFF President, Nguyen Thien Nhan, has said at a recent forum on a role of craft villages in the national international integration that Vietnamese craft villages cannot develop without support from the Government and via their own efforts. (Photo:

There are about 2,800 craft villages across Vietnam. Many of them are widely known like Van Phuc silk, Dong Ho folk painting, Bat Trang ceramic, Kim Son sedge mat, Dong Ky wood carving, and Phu Vinh bamboo village.

Craft villages provide employment to 11 million people and turn out roughly 200 kinds of handicraft products. But with international integration, they are facing a mountain of difficulties, particularly in scale of operation developing new designs and products, and obtaining financing.

Tran Manh Cuong, Director of Bac Viet Company in Hanoi’s Bat Trang ceramic village, said 80% of traditional craft villages are operating at the household level, and rely on outdated technology, and as a result, will find it hard to fulfill large orders.

Cuong said that “the export of Vietnam’s handicraft and fine arts products will benefit from global integration. But one major challenge for domestic businesses is that they lack practical experience in competition while their regional counterparts have been competing for a long time. That means when countries can freely penetrate each other’s market, they’ll be redoubtable rivals of Vietnamese craft enterprises.”

Artisan Huynh Minh Khoa, the owner of a stone carving facility in Da Nang City, said many Vietnamese traditional handicraft items are centuries old but haven’t been recognized as a trademark unique to Vietnamese culture and tradition. Some are of increasingly poor quality and design compared to similar items made in other countries.

Khoa said in order not to fall behind, domestic craft enterprises should offer unique products, adding that they “have increased investment in training skilled craftsmen who can create craft items to develop craft villages in Ngu Hanh Son or Marble Mountain. Da Nang authorities have gathered craft villages in one place rather than letting scattered stone carving workshops develop.”


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At a ceramic factory in Chu Dau Ceramic traditional village in Thai Tan Commune, Nam Sach District, Hai Duong Province. (Photo:

By the end of this year, the ASEAN Economic Community will be formed and several trade agreements will likely be signed, leading to many kinds of products having a maximum tariff of 5%. That means Vietnamese products will undergo fiercer competition before craft villages have improved their production technology and professional skills.

Cao Si Kiem, Chairman of the Vietnamese Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Association, said that in the new context there will be no alternative to cutting costs, creating better designs and patterns, and improving competitiveness in domestic and global markets.

Kiem underlined the need to “revise our laws to encourage Vietnamese people to make products with higher quality, lower prices, and relevance to local and foreign tastes. We also need to invest more in advanced technologies and training of qualified human resources to turn out lots of competitive commodities. Also, enterprises in various fields should work more closely with each other.”

Integration is essential for Vietnamese craft villages to improve their competitiveness and develop sustainably. But to achieve this goal, state agencies should provide craft enterprises more specific information regarding integration while craft villages should proactively update their market knowledge and adjust their production and marketing plans appropriately.

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