Bumper year for industry and trade: Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong hinh anh 1The competitiveness of many Vietnamese products is being improved (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) - Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong has said 2018 was a bumper year for both industry and trade – the biggest growth from previous years.

Addressing the conference reviewing the industry and trade sector’s performance, Minister Cuong underlined a number of outstanding and comprehensive achievements in all fields, from economy and society to security and defence.

However, the highlight of 2018 was that it was the success of industry and trade, which saw the biggest bump up from previous years, he said.

[Trade surplus estimated at 7.21 billion USD this year]

Achievements from industry to agriculture

Elaborating his comment, the minister said a number of industrial breakthroughs were recorded in 2018, noting that aside from oil and gas exploration, Vietnam also succeeded in coke fuel refining. Private businesses such as Truong Hai or Vinfast also set milestones in the fields they operate in.

The industries that Vietnam has given priority to show that the country has made great strides in industrial restructuring, he said.

Meanwhile, products of other industries, especially light industries, that serve daily needs have had both quantity and quality improved and prices made more competitive.

These attainments in turn have helped the trade sector to obtain breakthrough outcomes as total exports hit 245 billion USD for the first time – a remarkable achievement amid the struggling global economy, Minister Cuong added.

Notably, improvements were seen in the shipments to big markets like the EU, the US, Japan, and China, he said, stressing that 30 commodities enjoyed an export revenue of over 1 billion USD each, showing that Vietnam’s production activities have been diversified and developed in the right direction.

Bumper year for industry and trade: Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong hinh anh 2The conference reviewing the industry and trade sector’s performance (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Minister Cuong said aside from trade with foreign partners, domestic trade also recorded outstanding outcomes. In 2018, major enterprises, business associations, authorities, and people joined hands to support domestic trade. This was domestic demand and the driving force of sustainable development, helping to fuel production activities.

In this context, the agricultural sector also made numerous accomplishments, including the export turnover of 40.2 billion USD.

“The fact that 16 projects began and were inaugurated last year shows that the combination of industry and agriculture has created a strong influence, helping with agricultural restructuring,” the minister added.

Bumper year for industry and trade: Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong hinh anh 3

265 billion USD in export turnover targeted

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), Vietnam’s total trade turnover was estimated at 482.236 billion USD in 2018, up 12.64 percent year-on-year.

MoIT Deputy Minister Hoang Quoc Vuong said it is noteworthy that exports were about 244.7 billion USD, rising 13.8 percent from 2017 and surpassing the target set by the National Assembly and the Government.

Notably, the export structure has continued to be improved with a decline in the export of raw materials and an increase in the shipment of processed goods and industrial products, which is in line with the export and import strategy for 2011-2020 with a vision to 2030. This has created more conditions for Vietnamese goods to be further involved in global production and supply chains.

Another highlight is the sustained export growth of domestic businesses, Vuong said, adding that domestic firms shipped about 69.2 billion USD worth of goods abroad last year, up 15.9 percent – higher than the export growth of the whole country and the FDI sector (12.9 percent, including crude oil).

“Thanks to export promotion conducted at the same time with domestic production restructuring and import control, trade surplus was maintained in 2018 with a record level,” Deputy Minister Vuong said.

However, the MoIT also pointed out a number of problems. For example, raw materials and fuels, especially materials for production, accounted for a large proportion of the import structure, indicating that Vietnam still depends much on foreign suppliers. That is a disadvantage for the economy since whenever global prices soar, domestic production costs will subsequently hike and the competitiveness of Vietnamese exports will be undermined.

Director of the MoIT’s Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency Vu Ba Phu said that for many years, exports were based on labour intensive sectors and raw products. Facing that fact, the ministry has organised many programmes to attract investment to industries using high technology, thereby helping improve the added value, supply, and quality of export items.

This move aims to restructure export commodities, shifting from the export of materials and raw products to the export of processed goods and industrial products with high value, he added.

Based on the achievements of last year, the MoIT expects this year’s exports to reach some 265 billion USD and imports at 268 billion USD, respectively rising 8-10 percent and 11.7 percent from 2018. The trade deficit will stand at around 3 billion USD, equivalent to 2 percent of the total overseas shipments. –VNA