Vietnam’s H1 exports feel brunt of COVID-19 hinh anh 1Many Vietnamese producers and exporters are affected by COVID-19. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA)Vietnam’s exports in the first half of 2020 totalled 121.2 billion USD, down 1.1 percent from the same period last year, as the COVID-19 has taken a serious bit out of the country’s economy, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The pandemic, which first broke out in China, has disrupted two-way trade between Vietnam and its northern neighbour, particularly in terms of imports of agricultural and fishery products and materials.

The economy only started to feel the severe brunt of COVID-19’s toll in the second quarter of the year after the novel coronavirus pandemic spread globally, affecting a number of Vietnam’s major buyers, such as the United States (US), European Union (EU), Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Travel restrictions and border closures to prevent the virus from spreading further have disrupted global trade and weakened demands.

Exports in the second quarter of 2020 shrank 8.3 percent against the previous quarter and 9 percent compared to the same period last year.

In the six-month period, contraction was witnessed in many groups of goods. The group of fuels and minerals was the hardest hit with exports plunging 35.8 percent to 1.5 billion USD. Shipments of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products declined 4.4 percent to 11.7 billion USD while the processing industry saw shipments sliding 0.7 percent to 101.6 billion USD.

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade reveals that the country’s H1 shipments to ASEAN and EU markets nosedived 14 percent and 8.8 percent year on year, respectively.

Meanwhile, exports to the US expanded 10.3 percent year on year to 30.3 billion USD, making it Vietnam’s largest buyer during the period. China came second with 19.5 billion USD, up 17.4 percent, followed by the EU with 16.1 billion USD, down 8.8 percent.

Shipments to members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) also experienced promising results with those to Australia growing 2.3 percent, Chile 1.6 percent, and Mexico 2.6 percent.

Vietnam imported 117.17 billion USD worth of goods for domestic production and consumption during the January – June period, raising the trade surplus to a record level of 4 billion USD, compared to just 1.72 billion USD a year earlier.

Vietnam’s H1 exports feel brunt of COVID-19 hinh anh 2 The Ministry of Industry and Trade hosts a number of trade promotion events to boost exports of Vietnamese agricultural products post-COVID-19. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung said imports of raw materials started rising again in June, signaling domestic production rebound. It was largely owing to Vietnam’s successful containment of the COVID-19.

To fulfil this year’s economic goals, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has undertaken a variety of measures to recover exports, with focus on organisation of virtual trade promotion events with key trade partners, said Vu Ba Phu, Director General of the MoIT’s Trade Promotion Agency.

This year, the ministry has so far hosted three trade fairs on foods and agricultural products with China, as well as one on consumer goods with Japan and one with India in June.

New-generation EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which will take effect in August, is expected to help Vietnam lure more export orders from EU markets for key sectors.

To make the most of the trade deal, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has asked for closer coordination among ministries, agencies and localities to popularlise policies related to exports of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products to the EU and provide them with information on EU quality and safety standards.

Businesses are suggested taking opportunities to have more customers and boost production and export as soon as the pandemic is brought under control in their key export markets./.