28 AMERICAN HARDWOOD Southeast Asia Supplement 2018 O pening remarks were made by Gerald H. Smith, Senior Agricultural Attaché, US Consulate, Nguyen Chanh Phuong, general secretary of the Handicrafts and Wood Industry Association of HCMC (HAWA) and Truong Luu Nguyen, president of the HCMC Association of Architects. Addressingtheaudience,AHECChairman Dave Bramlage said, “You’ll learn a lot, see a lot and I hope youwill take home things said and we can promote American hardwoods through you.” John Chan, AHEC regional director, added, “There is increasing interest in the use of American hardwoods for the interiors and building sectors within Vietnam’s rapidly-growing construction industry. AHEC is hosting this event to educate traders, architects and designers on the U.S. hardwood resource, grading systems, design potential, market trends as well as its successful application in prominent sustainable design projects around the world.” Exports of US hardwoods to Vietnam reached US$240 million in 2017, of which much was consumed by the furniture industry. A sustainable approach European Director David Venables opened his presentation with the words, “It’s all about the trees” and focused on the sustainability of U.S. hardwood forests. At least 20 American hardwood species are available in significant commercial volumes but Vietnam does not use them all. Venables said, “Sustainability is also about thebalancebetweenwhatweuse and what nature produces which beholds us to select from a wider range of species and in various grades.” He also shared how AHEC is working with European retailers to choose a wider variety of species andwith initiatives such as the recent “Too Good to Waste” campaign in Italy. AHEC held a seminar at the GEM Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City during Vietnam Wood 2017. It was a showcase of inspiring projects done by AHEC.