The trade deficit increased to 6.6 billion USD in the first five months this year compared to 5.4 billion USD in the same period of last year due to higher import value, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The deficit was 1 billion USD in January, 1.1 billion USD in February, 1.15 billion USD in March, 1.4 billion USD in April and 1.7 billion USD in May.

The May deficit saw a year-on-year increase of 17.3 percent, said Le Thi Minh Thuy, head of the GSO's Trade Department.

"The deficit can be reduced with the decrease of imported goods and materials in favour of domestically produced equipment and materials and the support of local industry development," Thuy said.

During May, export value rose to 7.5 billion USD from 7.437 billion USD in April while the import value surged to 9.2 billion USD from 8.93 billion USD in April, she added.

Total export value during the first five months of this year saw a year-on-year increase of 32.8 percent to 34.75 billion USD.

"The huge surge in export value during the first five months was mainly due to a sharp increase in world market prices, especially in terms of farm products, seafood, textiles and footwear, Vietnamese key exports," Thuy said.

Export value climbed by 113 percent to 1.52 billion USD for rubber; 121.7 percent to 1.77 billion for coffee; 109.4 percent to 580 million USD for cassava and products made from cassava; 37 percent to 2.98 billion USD for crude oil; 35.6 percent to 5.1 billion USD for textiles and 31.8 percent to 2.37 billion USD for footwear.

The State-owned sector saw a year-on-year growth of 31.1 percent in terms of total export value during the first five months to 15 billion USD while the foreign investment sector saw a year-on-year growth in export value of 34.2 percent to 19.01 billion USD.

High world market prices, while advantageous to export value, disadvantaged import activities because high prices pushed the total trade deficit up, Thuy said.

Total import value during the first five months increased 29.7 percent compared with the same period last year to 41.33 billion USD./.