Vietnam enjoyed a 22 percent increase in export turnover against the same period last year, reaching 33.4 billion USD in the first four months of 2012.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Nam Hai made the statement at a meeting held in Hanoi on May 2.

Last month, export turnover hit 8.6 billion USD, 14 percent higher than the corresponding period in 2011.

Hai said export growth was much higher than imports, which rose just 4.4 percent to reach 9 billion USD.

"The FDI sector was the main contributor to the export growth," he said, adding that industrial items had also helped the sharp increase.

Statistics from the ministry showed that garment and textiles, footwear, wood and wooden products saw export growth rates of 9 to 20 percent, while mobile phone accessories rose 154 percent and electronics increased 99 per cent.

It also said import growth in the FDI sector was higher than the national average as the sector depended on imported materials.

The ministry estimated the trade deficit in the four-month period would hit 176 million USD, accounting for 0.5 percent of export turnover.

Vietnam imported 4 billion USD worth of goods from China , 1.7 billion USD from ASEAN, 2.8 billion USD from the Republic of Korea and 2.2 billion USD from Taiwan .

FDI (excluding crude oil) saw an export surplus of 844 million USD.

However, he said the prices of most exported items had fallen while productivity of some products had also dropped due to unfavourable weather.

"In addition, exports were affected by high interest rates and low competitiveness," he said.

Last month, purchasing power in the domestic market increased slightly over March.

Prices of some items including cooking gas, agricultural products and fertilisers were reduced and did not affect purchasing power.

The deputy minister also said the industrial production index last month rose 1.5 percent over the previous month, and 7.5 percent increase against the same period last year.

The processing sector rose 3.7 percent while mining decreased by 2.3 percent.

"The low industrial production index was due to most industries being affected by common difficulties, such as high production costs and slow consumption," he said.

Speaking at the meeting, Trinh Anh Tuan, head of the Vietnam Competition Administration Department, said exporters should promote access to the ASEAN, Japanese and RoK markets where Vietnam enjoys preferential taxes in free trade areas.

Tuan said enterprises should be alerted to anti-dumping law suits, with more than 40 disputes over Vietnamese products since 2000.-VNA