In the first five months of this year, domestic exports increased by 17.8% to US$26.43 billion while exports of foreign-invested firms (inclusive of crude oil) moved up 15% to US$66.6 billion.
According to experts, the growth was thanks to positive signals in major markets such as the US, European Union and China, the global economic recovery and increasing commodity prices.
Statistics showed that 10 of 16 commodities fetched higher export prices during the period, including rice (up 25.6%), cashew nuts (3.2%), cassava and its products (43.6%) and crude oil (32.8%).
The US was Vietnam’s largest importer with turnover of US$17.4 billion, up 9% annually. It was followed by the EU, China, ASEAN, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK).
Up to US$19.7 billion was spent on imports, up 14.5% monthly and 6.3% annually.
As of late May, the country’s total imports rose 8.2 percent annually to US$89.7 billion, US$36.82 billion of which was spent by domestic firms, up 10.4%, and the remaining by foreign-invested ones, up 6.7% year-on-year.
Imports were mostly computers, electronics and spare parts, fabrics, iron and steel, petrol, plastics, metal, garment materials, footwear and chemicals. The largest import market was China with a value of US$24.2 billion, up 9% annually, followed by the RoK, ASEAN, Japan, the EU and the US.
Tran Thanh Hai, deputy head of the MoIT’s Export-Import Department, said Vietnam ran a trade surplus of US$3.4 billion in the five months.
Head of the ministry’s Planning Department Duong Duy Hung attributed the outcomes to an improving business climate, support for start-ups and increased foreign investment.
Vietnam’s major currency earners like apparel, footwear, machinery, wooden furniture, farm produce and aquatic products continued to benefit from free trade agreements. The garment, leather and footwear sectors have received orders till the end of the third quarter and throughout 2018.
However, Vietnamese exporters also meet difficulties with China changing export-import policies, tightening quality management, boosting domestic manufacturing protection and limiting cross-border trade.
Protectionism has increased since early 2018, particularly among industrial products like iron and steel.
Countries have adopted strict regulations on food safety and environment protection standards such as control of the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade.
Hung said the MoIT will facilitate manufacturing restructure, control supply and improve quality of farm produce and aquatic products for export while maintaining growth in traditional markets.
It will also improve the efficiency of trade promotion and branding and cope with protection measures, he said, adding that institutional and administrative reform will continue to create favourable conditions for enterprises.
In coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and units concerned, the MoIT will discuss dispute settlement with the US to protect Vietnam’s shrimp and tra fish exports.
The ministry will hold working sessions with relevant countries to speed up their recognition of Vietnam’s quarantine, food hygiene and safety system, thus facilitating farm produce exports.