A declining US dollar price on the free market and at commercial banks has given imported goods a competitive edge over their domestic counterparts, industry insiders say.

The dollar prices fell by nearly 2,000 VND on the unofficial market compared to late February and by more than 1,000 VND at commercial banks.

Nguyen Ngoc Minh, a sugar merchant at the Xom Chieu Market in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 4, told the Sai gon Tiep thi (Marketing Sai Gon) newspaper that white sugar at the London Exchange was currently trading at 592.7 USD a tonne, which would be sold at 15,000 VND a kilo when imported to Vietnam after taxes and transport fees have been added.

This is cheaper than domestic sugar that is priced at 24,000 VND -25,000 VND a kilo. The price difference has enabled imported sugar to flood the domestic market, Minh said.

Hoang Thi Thuan, owner of a business that imports and distributes processed foodstuff in District 1, said wholesale imported foodstuff prices have fallen by 3-5 percent over two months ago.

A market survey by SGTT showed a reduction of 3,000-10,000 VND a kilo for almost all imported fruit while that of imported confectionery, including boxes of chocolate, fell by 5,000 VND per unit.

Phan Van Thien, deputy general director of Bibica, a confectioner, said the lower foreign exchange rate as well as purchasing power have forced importers to reduce prices of several products for fear that slow sales would send them past their expiry date.

He said imported goods are currently only 10 percent more expensive than domestic ones, instead of the usual gap of 20 percent. Hence domestic goods face tougher competition not only in terms of prices, but also packaging and design, taste as well as seasonal consumption demand, he added./.