The Ministry of Industry and Trade expects the consumer price index in March to increase by 2 percent due to a surge in the cost of electricity and petrol.

The domestic commodities market has suffered the impacts of a sharp rise in the prices of material and fuel, the ministry said.

Besides the cost of electricity and petrol, the high exchange rate between the Vietnamese dong and foreign currencies has also forced many traders to increase the cost of goods and services.

The country's consumer price index increased by 2.09 percent in February against the previous month due to the high prices of most goods over Tet (Lunar New Year).

Other factors also contributed to the increase, including the Government's decision to increase the minimum wage, high bonuses for labourers and the high cost of many goods during the holiday in response to changes in the exchange rate and strong fluctuation of gold and US dollar prices.

February CPI rose by 12.31 percent over the same period last year, up 3.87 percent against last December.

Total retail sales of goods and services surged 23.7 percent in the first two months of this year against the same period last year to 304.3 trillion VND (13.9 billion USD).

Total retail sales would have risen by just 10.2 percent if prices had not increased in the two months, said the ministry./.