How to tackle labour rights in the EU-Vietnam wood furniture trade

Angie Ngọc Trần, Angie Ngoc Tran

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Each year, Vietnam exports vast quantities of tropical hardwood furniture, some of which is made from wood imported from deforestation hotspots around the world. This share of the global market is set to increase: by 2030 Vietnam aims to be the world’s leading wood processing hub for export, with turnover expected to reach $25 billion (US) a year by 2030.1 The European Union (EU) – which is a high value, strategic market for wood and wooden furniture from Vietnam – could play a significant role in fuelling this growth.2 Although Vietnam’s wood furniture exports to the EU have been affected in recent years by the Covid-19 pandemic and then inflation, in August 2020 the window for increasing wood exports widened, when the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) came into force.3 The EVFTA relaxes import duties on goods originating from both the EU and Vietnam: a major trade boost for both parties. The EVFTA has led to greater international scrutiny on the flow of illegal timber into Vietnam, as well on the country’s forest governance reforms.4 Little, however, has been said about issues surrounding labour rights in Vietnam’s wood sector, despite around 600,000 people being employed in wood processing and furniture manufacturing.5 This report aims to rectify this. It is based on in-depth interviews with a sample of 40 workers from various sections of different wood processing and furniture manufacturing companies supplying the EU, and examines whether the companies are meeting the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 10 Fundamental Conventions,6 all of which Vietnam has ratified – apart from Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association, which it has pledged to this year.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Labor Economics

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