Bilateral trade between Vietnam and South Asian countries reached 1.265 billion USD in the first three months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 64.7 per cent, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has reported.

Vietnam 's export revenue grew a whopping 148.5 percent to hit 512 million USD and its imports made a 34 per cent gain to reach 753 million USD.

According to MoIT , Vietnam 's export revenues to India amounted to a majority of 292.5 million USD or 57.1 per ent of the total export revenue, a year-on-year increase of 88.2 per cent. Bangladesh saw the highest growth of 588.6 percent with a total export turnover of 174.9 million USD.

The Pakistan and Sri Lanka markets reached 32.5 million USD and 10.5 million USD with increases of 92.3 percent and 32.9 percent, respectively.

The high growth was attributed to the markets' huge demand for agricultural products, food, materials for construction, textile and garments and processing industries. Successful trade promotion in the market was also a significant factor, along with the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ASEAN countries and India that became effective in June last year.

The increasing prices of products manufactured by foreign invested enterprises investing in Vietnam also helped boost export turnover. Those products included cellular phones and accessories, plastic material, chemicals, machinery, auto parts and steel.

During the first quarter of 2011, several export commodities hit high revenues such as rice, clinker, pharmaceutical goods, motorbike parts and bottled water. Bangladesh has been identified as a potential importer of rice and clinker while India is in need of textile, garment and footwear materials, cinnamon, steel products and motorbike parts.

Regarding imports, Vietnam imported 708 million USD worth of goods from India amounting to 94 percent of the total import revenues, followed by Pakistan at 28.6 million USD and Bangladesh at 11.6 million USD.

Vietnam imported from India mostly animal food materials, 255 million USD; corn, 87 million USD; cotton, 62 million USD; pharmaceutical products, 57 million USD; machinery-chemicals-pesticides and other materials for the textile and garment, footwear, plastics and pharmaceutical industries.

The majority of imported commodities from South Asian countries was used for production, processing and domestic consumption. The cost and quality of those imported products were very competitive in comparison with other markets, MoIT said.

The ministry also said that the faster pace of exports in comparison to imports in the first three months helped lower Vietnam 's trade deficit to 241 million USD from 356 million USD in the same period last year.

However, the country's effort to balance trade was still challenging, particularly because India also enjoyed tariff cuts under the ASEAN – India FTA, MoIT added./.