Vietnam's exports to ASEAN topped 17.08 billion USD in 2012, surging 25.7 percent over the previous year.

The figure accounted for 14.9 percent of the country's total export value in the year, according to the General Department of Customs' statistics.

The strong growth was attributed to significant increases in value of key export items including computers and electronic products (up by 844 million USD), mobile phones and components (750 million USD), rubber (339 million USD), steel (243 million USD), and coffee (224 million USD).

However, exports of rice, which usually made up the largest ratio of the country's exports to ASEAN, were down by 518 million USD.

During the period, Vietnam also imported 20.76 billion USD worth of goods from the bloc including oil and gas, motorbikes, automobiles, spare parts, steel and iron, representing a modest slump of 1 percent.

Singapore remained Vietnam's largest trading partner at 9.03 billion USD, making up 23.9 percent of the country's total export earnings to the bloc.

It was followed by Thailand at 8.41 billion USD (22.2 percent), Malaysia at 7.91 billion USD (20.9 percent), Indonesia at 4.61 billion USD (12.2 percent) and Cambodia at 3.32 billion USD (8.8 percent).

Experts predicted that two-way trade between Vietnam and ASEAN this year was likely to increase as Vietnam continued to accelerate trade promotions in ASEAN and foreign businesses in the bloc continued looking for trade and investment opportunities in the country.

In order to foster exports to the bloc, experts have encouraged enterprises to take part in more trade fairs and exhibitions and update their knowledge of the market, while focusing on technical innovation to improve product quality.

A recent survey conducted by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council revealed that Vietnam was the second most attractive investment destination in the region.

The survey questioned 405 business people and industry leaders, with 50 percent selecting Indonesia as ASEAN's best investment destination, followed by Vietnam with 46 percent.-VNA