Vietnam expects US$500 million trade surplus this year

Thien Thanh Sanitaryware joint company

Vietnam expects US$500 million trade surplus this year

Vietnam is looking to obtain a trade surplus of US$500 million this year, so a host of measures have been applied to boost exports to realize this goal, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Speaking at a teleconference on July 7, Nguyen Tien Vy, head of the Planning Department under the ministry, said the country expects to earn export revenues of US$146 billion this year, a 10.6% increase against 2013, while imports are forecast to jump 10.2% to US$145.5 billion.

The country’s exports reached US$12.1 billion in June, bringing the January-June total to US$70.88 billion, a rise of 14.9% over the same period last year. Of the figure, the domestic sector made up around US$23 billion, up 11.5%, while foreign-invested enterprises accounted for US$43.75 billion (excluding crude oil), increasing 17.2% year-on-year.

The export structure has also improved. Vietnamplus quoted Vy as saying that exports of processed and industrial products moved up versus a decline of fuel and mineral products.

In the year to date, 13 products have fetched export earnings of more than US$1 billion each, including mobile phones and phone parts; apparel; footwear; computers, electronics and components; machinery, equipment and tools; crude oil; seafood; wood and timber products; means of transport and spare parts; coffee; rice; bags, suitcases, hats and umbrellas, fiber and textiles.

Shipments to all the key export markets grew, including America with a 23.6% increase, Asia 11%, Europe 10.8%, Africa 10.4% and Oceania 30.8%.

The Export-Import Department under the ministry said the trade surplus of US$1.32 billion in the first half of the year helped the nation further increase foreign reserves, and stabilize the foreign exchange rate and the macro economy.

However, Phan Thi Dieu Ha, deputy head of the Export-Import Department, still warned of challenges for the export sector. For instance, the nation must have long-term solutions to deal with drops in farm produce prices during bumper crops and heavy reliance on a single market.

Statistics of the ministry showed that export prices of agricultural products, including vegetables and fruits, rice and rubber to China fell slightly by 2.5-7.8%. As estimated, the farm produce price decline dragged the nation’s export turnover down by US$219 million in the first half.

In addition, striking a trade balance with China remains a big challenge for Vietnam, which ran a huge trade deficit of around US$13 billion with the neighboring country in the first half of this year, up 10.1% year-on-year.

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

Therefore, to fulfill the export revenue target of US$146 billion for this year, businesses are advised to make full use of free trade agreements (FTAs) and renovate technology so as to speed up exports and reduce trade deficit, Ha said.

Another major challenge for exports toward the end of this year is that the European Commission has announced to launch inspections into processing facilities in Vietnam in September to check the quality of bivalve mollusks exported to the European Union (EU). This may impact Vietnam’s seafood exports to that major market.

Tran Bich Nga, deputy head of the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD), said relevant government agencies and local authorities have been told to review all bivalve mollusk purchasing and processing units in the country.

For the enterprises exporting mollusks to the EU, they have to check all stages of production to ensure all hygiene and quality criteria are met.

Duy Nam (