Petrol imports totalled 6.5 million tonnes and reached a cost of 5.9 billion USD in the first seven months of the year, accounting for 10.2 percent of the nation's total imports, according to the General Department of Customs.

The figure represents a decrease of 42 percent in volume and 8.6 percent in value, however, in comparison with the same period last year.

In July alone, Vietnam imported about 533,500 tonnes of petrol, valued at 512 million USD – a decline of 39.2 percent in volume and 37 percent in value compared to the previous month.

Kuwait became a new petrol exporter to Vietnam, shipping 393,600 tonnes during the month. Meanwhile, exports fell from traditional suppliers such as Malaysia, Russia and China.

Global crude oil prices have dropped significantly this month, with experts predicting the price would continue to decline as global traders anticipated another recession that would restrain demand.

Since the beginning of August, crude oil prices have dropped 9.93 percent, while jet fuel prices have fallen by 1.68 percent and diesel oil by 2 percent, according to the Vietnam National Petroleum Corporation (Petrolimex).

US-based Merrill Lynch has forecast that oil prices could fall to as low as 50 USD a barrel this year.

Petrolimex expected that the price it would pay for refined petroleum products on the Singapore market would decline with the world price. In the first half of August, the price of these commodities fell by 1.14-3.11 percent. The decrease in the price of petrol and other refined petroleum products would continue to lag behind crude oil prices, expected to fall 5.8-9.9 percent.

Petrolimex was looking to buy 31,000 tonnes of petrol RON 92 for shipment in the first week of next month. Last week, meanwhile, Petrolimex's representative in Singapore signed a long-term contract with Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, under which the Vietnamese corporation would supply fuel oil to Bangladesh.

Nguyen Tien Thoa, director of the price management department under the Ministry of Finance, said there would be no immediate change in petrol prices.

"Vietnam has not imported crude oil so changes in global crude oil prices won't affect local prices," Thoa said.

Earlier last week, the ministry announced that the computed average cost of petrol between July 12 and August 10 was higher than the existing domestic retail price by 342 VND to 530 VND per litre. Therefore, the ministries of Finance and of Industry and Trade decided jointly to leave retail petrol prices unchanged. Domestic petrol prices averaging 21,300 VND per litre remained 3,822 VND to 13,056 VND lower than those in neighbouring countries like Laos, Cambodia, Singapore and China, Petrolimex said./.