Vietnam is expected to enjoy a trade surplus of 500 million USD this year, with its total export turnover at 146 billion USD and import turnover at 145.5 billion USD.

Nguyen Tien Vy, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Planning Department, told a press conference in Hanoi on July 7 that while the export turnover would be 10.6 percent higher than the previous year, import turnover would see a 10.2 percent year-on-year increase.

Statistics from the ministry showed that in the first half of the year, the country's exports saw encouraging results with a turnover of 70.88 billion USD which accounted for 48 percent of the entire year's target. Exports of foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises excluding crude oil rose 17 percent, and accounted for 62 percent of the total while that of domestic firms increased 11.5 percent.

"Export structure had also positively changed as exports of processing products played a key role in the total turnover growth while those of materials and minerals had decreased," Vy said.

Exports of processing products reached 50.9 billion USD in the January-June period, accounting for 72 percent of the total, and rose 16 percent over the same period last year.

Agro-forest and fisheries exports in the same period rose 13.6 percent in comparison with the corresponding period last year, bringing 11 billion USD to the country.

He emphasised that Vietnam has 13 items with an export turnover of more than 1 billion USD each while the number of such products last year was 12. These were telephone instruments and spare parts, garments and textiles and shoes.

Computers, electronic products and spare parts were other items that did over 1 billion USD each in exports. Machines, equipment, crude oil and seafood along with wood and wooden products also contributed to this export kitty. Transport vehicles, coffee, rice, and handbags completed the list of products with a 1 billion USD each in export turnover.

He added that Vietnam's exports to its main markets saw a rise against the same period last year. These markets were Latin America with 24 percent, Asia with 11 percent, Europe with 10.8 percent and Africa with 10.4 percent.

Its imports in the period reached 69.5 billion USD, representing an 11 percent year-on-year increase. The main imported products were machines and equipment.

Vietnam enjoyed a 1.32 billion USD trade surplus in the six-month period.

However, Phan Thi Dieu Ha, deputy head of the ministry's Import-Export Department, said the country should have a long-term strategy to resolve the situation of bumper crops and dropping prices.

In May and June, exports of agricultural products such as fruits, rice and rubber to China were at 7.8 percent, dropping by 2.5 percent, showing a decrease of 219 million USD in export turnover during this period.

Meanwhile, striking a trade balance with China remains a big challenge for Vietnam, which ran up a huge trade deficit of around 13.057 billion USD (up 10.1 percent) with its neighbour in the first half of this year.

Major imported products from China included machinery, equipment, materials and fuel for infrastructure development, domestic production and outsourcing for exports.

To complete the target of 146 billion USD export earnings for this year, businesses have been advised to make full use of free trade agreements (FTAs) and upgrade technology so as to boost exports and reduce import surplus.

"With the current growth rate of exports in the first half, the country would meet the target of 10 percent increase this year," she added.-VNA