The important foreign trade results Vietnam achieved in recent years have considerably contributed to the development of the country. Imports and exports have grown at a rather high rate in terms of value as well as the range of products. The trade deficit has been narrowed down. However, if Vietnam fails to take decisive measures, it will be difficult for the country to achieve the balance-of-trade goal set for 2020. The Vietnam Economic News reports.

Persuasive export growth

In 2011, Vietnam’s export value reached 96.9 billion USD, a rise of 34 percent compared with 2010. Last year, the index for the first time exceeded 100 billion USD, reaching 114.6 billion USD. Based on the export results of the first nine months of 2013 and the fourth quarters of the previous years, the Ministry of Industry and Trade predicted that the export value of this year would reach 131 billion USD, up 14 percent compared with 2012.

There has been a longer list of products with their export value exceeding 1 billion USD. This list consists of products such as cashew nuts, cassava, fiber and yarn. Textiles, garments and mobile phones have their export value exceeding 10 billion USD. In 2011, the export value of mobile phones reached 6.8 billion USD, behind that of textiles, garments and crude oil. But last year, mobile phones moved ahead of crude oil, ranking behind just textiles and garments. In the first nine months of 2013, mobile phones moved to the first position with their export value reaching 15.1 billion USD, 2.2 times that of 2011.

The US remains the largest export market of Vietnam. Vietnam’s exports to the US reached 16.9 billion USD in 2011 and 19.5 billion USD in 2012.

In terms of export structure, Vietnam has followed the export and import strategy for the 2011-2020 period with a vision towards 2030. Specifically, processing industry-related products accounted for 69.7 percent while agricultural-forestry-aquatic products, materials and minerals accounted for a mere 22.7 percent. Other products accounted for a low percentage in the export structure but their export growth rate was higher than the average export growth rate of all products. Some products are ready to join the group of key exports.

For five consecutive years (2008-2012), the Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk) exported to 26 markets and its export value grew an average 62 percent annually. In the first nine months of 2013, it fulfilled over 70 percent of the export contracts signed for the whole year with a total value of 230 million USD.

Import highlights

In 2011, Vietnam’s import value reached 106.7 billion USD, a rise of 25.8 percent compared with 2010. Last year, the index reached 114.3 billion USD, up seven percent compared with 2011. In a report on the import-export results and trade deficit of the first nine months of 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Trade predicted that the export value would reach 131.5 billion USD this year, up 15.6 percent compared with 2012.

These results were achieved thanks to efforts to promote domestic production of materials for making export products and develop support industries as well as the strict control over the import of products.

The import structure continued changing to cater for the country’s industrialisation and modernisation. The products the import of which is necessary accounted for 81.2 percent, 87.7 percent and 87.9 percent respectively in 2011, 2012 and the first nine months of 2013. The import value of these products has increased since the beginning of this year - this reflected the recovery of important sectors making products for both domestic sale and export. The products the import of which must be tightly controlled and those which are restricted accounted for 4-5 percent.

The Philippines and Indonesia are large trading partners of Vietnam, buying Vietnamese rice. Thanks to effective trade promotion activities, the presence of high-quality Vietnamese products in the Cambodian market has increased. Although it is a small market in terms of capacity, Cambodia is an Asian market with which Vietnam has a high trade surplus.

Trade deficit widens

Trade deficit is inevitable for a developing economy, but thanks to efforts to maintain a high export growth rate and seek new export markets as well as effective import management, Vietnam has had a surplus in trade with some other countries.

Vietnam’s trade deficit considerably decreased in recent years. In 2011, it was 9.8 billion USD, accounting for 10 percent of the export value. In 2012, Vietnam had a trade surplus of 284 million USD. This year, it is predicted to be 500 million USD.

The US takes the lead among markets with which Vietnam has a trade surplus. Vietnam’s surplus in trade with the US was 12.4 billion USD, 14.8 billion USD and 12.2 billion USD in 2011, 2012 and the first nine months of 2013 respectively. The EU ranks second behind the US in this regard.

Japan has actively helped Vietnam develop support industries and provided assistance for Vietnamese businesses, craft villages and interior decoration item producers to access the Japanese market. In 2010, Vietnam still had a deficit in trade with Japan, but since 2011 it has seen a continuous surplus in trade with the country.-VNA