Vietnam’s exports are expected to enjoy a successful year as January turnover hit 11.47 USD, up 10.8 percent over December 2012.

The country also reported a trade surplus of 776 million USD right in the first month of the year.

Cell phones and spare parts are among top products that made significant contribution to the result.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s statistic, with a turnover of 1.5 billion USD in January, these two products even surpassed garments and textile as well as crude oil to become the top currency earner. Last year, these products brought home 12.72 billion USD, accounting for over 10 percent of the country’s total export value.

This year, cell phones and spare parts are forecast to continue their success as mobile giant Samsung Electronics Vietnam, which contributes almost 100 percent to the country’s cell phone export, is aiming for a strong growth in 2013 and an export turnover of 16.3 billion USD.

Meanwhile, garments and textile and footwear also had a good start with 1.05 billion USD in export value, an increase of 24.8 percent over the same period last year.

According to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, most of its members have received enough orders to keep them busy until the end of the first quarter. Some large businesses have even received orders for the second and third quarters.

At the same time, leather and footwear sector is also expected to enjoy high growth, as so far, many firms have won orders until the end of the year.

It is forecast that orders from the US will increase about 10 percent, while the EU market will be more stable than last year.

January is also a good month for the agro-forestry and fisheries sectors, with total export earnings hitting 2.17 billion USD, a 39.7 percent rise compared with the same time last year.

The question is how to maintain the momentum into the year.

At a recent video conference of the ministry this month, MoIT Minister Vu Huy Hoang urged caution even though export was a bright spot in the country’s economic picture last year. He noted that the rise in exports in January was not stable.

The minister stated that it is necessary to find more export products that have high added value such as electronics. On the other hand, he added, policies to strictly control import of non-essential and luxurious products should be implemented to curb trade deficit.

Hoang’s concern is reasonable, as the global economic situation remain changeable with a lot of risks. Many countries tend to apply policies to protect domestic production and strengthen technical barriers, making it more difficult for Vietnam’s export.

Challenges will be great for the country’s key export products. Demands for garments and textile are decreasing in large markets such as the US, EU and Japan, while other suppliers in the world are trying to cut the price by 5-7 percent.

Meanwhile, agro-forestry and fishery exports are mainly in the form of raw and unprocessed products without much added value, not to mention hinders from technical obstacles from importers, which reduce the sector’s competitiveness.

Experts also warned of a fact that foreign-invested firms continue to account for a bigger share of exports, manifesting the weak capacity of domestic businesses.-VNA