Illustrative Image (Photo:VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam has become a big importer for goods from ASEAN countries seven months after joining in ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has said.

Hue told a conference on the country's international integration in Hanoi last week that Vietnam saw big trade deficits with Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The country reported a small trade surplus with Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

He said Thailand surpassed the Republic of Korea to become the biggest automobile exporter to Vietnam though the tax on the product has not reduced to zero under AEC's commitments. India has also been a potential rival.

Statistics from General Statistics Office showed that in the first seven months of the year, the total import-export turnover among Vietnam and ASEAN countries was 22.8 billion USD, posting 8.3 percent year-on-year decrease. Of this, Vietnam's exports to the countries reduced 12.3 percent to 9.6 billion USD while its imports was 13.2 billion, making a trade deficit of 3.6 billion USD.

Hue wondered whether the risk could be prolonged or not. He also asked the government to conduct studies and analyses on the risks for solutions to resolve the situation.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said ASEAN or ASEAN+ markets have not brought clear benefits to Vietnam as most of the partners have similar and competitive economic structures in their countries.

In addition, local businesses have not been known to exploit opportunities from signed trade agreements. Several Vietnamese firms have not themselves sought partners. They have also not paid attention to tax reduction and removal as they still depended on middlemen, Khanh said.

He suggested that the government should encourage and facilitate businesses such as Vinamilk, TH True Milk, Minh Phu and Vinh Hoan, which have good investments in foreign markets.

He added that Vietnam should choose markets which have a supplemental economic structure.

In reality, some markets such as Japan and the Republic of Korea which have a supplemental economic structure, have helped Vietnam's narrow trade gap with the countries.

Nguyen The Phuong, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment shared the ideas, adding that the government should have solutions to improve competitiveness in each product and sector to help Vietnam have enough capacity in international integration.

"We could be lost in the ASEAN market if we do not enhance our competitiveness," Phuong said.

Vietnam has to date established trade ties with over 200 countries and territories. More than 100 countries and territories are running investment projects in Vietnam, while domestic firms are also investing in projects in more than 70 nations and territories.-VNA