Vietnam's exports in the first 15 days of this year are up more than 500 million USD from the same period last year.

The General Department of Customs said exports surged 10.1 percent from the previous year to 5.55 billion USD, while imports increased 15.6 percent to 5.51 billion USD.

Textile and garment exports topped the list, rising 201 million USD. Footwear and seafood exports followed, rising 91 million USD and 84 million USD, respectively.

Compared with the same period last year, the country spent more on importing equipment and components (up 237 million USD) and fabrics (up 48 million USD).

Foreign-invested firms contributed 3.39 billion USD, accounting for more than 61 percent of the country's total exports by value. Moreover, companies spent 3.19 billion USD on imports, which represented 58 percent of the country's total imports by value.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade forecast that this year's exports will increase 10 percent to 145 billion USD thanks to an expansion into new markets and greater opportunities from new trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement.

In a recent report, HSBC Bank also anticipated a year of robust growth for export-oriented firms because of improving global conditions and the possible conclusion of trade negotiations.

The report added that improved demand from the EU and the US would lift Vietnam's exports in 2014 by 20 percent, higher than the growth rate of 15.4 percent seen in 2013.

With a relatively high exposure to the US market (18 percent of total exports head to the US) and the EU (14 percent of total exports), Vietnam is poised to benefit from improving demand, the report noted.-VNA