In the first two months of 2018, Vietnamese exports continued to grow, setting new records.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the export value reached an estimated US$13.4 billion in February 2018 and US$33.6 billion in the first two months, up 22.9 percent compared with the same period last year. Specifically, the export value of the domestic sector reached an estimated US$9.6 billion, up 25.7 percent; the foreign invested sector’s exports (including crude oil) grew 21.8 percent to US$23.9 billion.
From the beginning of 2018 to mid-February, total export value grew 45.8 percent compared with the same period in 2017 - the highest growth rate in the same periods of the past three years. The export growth achieved by the domestic sector following a long period of difficulties reflected its improved manufacturing capacity.
Strong increases were recorded for most key groups of exports. The export value of agricultural, forest and aquatic products reached an estimated US$3.8 billion in the first two months of 2018, up 16 percent compared with the same period last year. In this group, tea, pepper and rubber saw slight decreases in export value.
Rice exports continued to grow, up 14.6 percent in volume and 32.1 percent in value due to price increases. According to the Vietnam Food Association, export of fragrant and glutinous rice grew in the first two months of this year. The increased export of high-quality rice and reduced export of medium and low-quality rice in recent years have contributed significantly to raising the export price of Vietnamese rice.
Processing industry products continued to be a key group in the export structure, with value reaching US$27.8 billion in the first two months of 2018, a rise of 26 percent compared with the same period last year. Major export products in this group include timber and wood products, footwear, textiles and garments, computers, electronic appliances and components, telephones and components.
According to the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association, most major wood businesses have received export orders for the first half of 2018, and some companies have even received orders for the whole year. The association is therefore confident of the feasibility of the US$9 billion export target set for 2018.
China has surpassed the US to become Vietnam’s largest export market and is maintaining this position with value reaching US$6.2 billion in the first two months of this year, up 64.8 percent compared with the same period in 2017. The US ranks second, followed by the EU, ASEAN, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK). According to the MoIT, exports to the RoK and East Asia grew 36.4 percent and 39.1 percent, respectively, reflecting Vietnam’s efforts to take advantage of opportunities presented by free trade agreements (FTAs). Export levels to traditional markets have been maintained. Exports to ASEAN member states have grown.
Imports in the first two months of 2018 grew at a lower rate compared with exports, yielding a trade surplus of US$1.08 billion.
MoIT data show that import value in February reached an estimated US$12.5 billion, down 37.6 percent compared with January. In the first two months, import value reached an estimated US$32.54 billion, up 15.3 percent compared with the same period last year. Major imported goods included input materials for production, such as petroleum and plastics.
Vietnamese exports are forecast to continue growing due to the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S9. The MoIT is concentrating on measures to maintain export growth.
Specifically, further efforts are being made to promote institutional reforms, improve the legal corridor and the state management apparatus, improve the investment and business environment, and mobilize resources for production. Manufacturers are encouraged to create products meeting importer requirements in terms of quality and food safety. Market research will be intensified to improve forecasts and provide timely warnings about trade defense measures against Vietnamese exports. Specific measures will be taken to help businesses overcome difficulties and promote production, exports and market development. Research will be taken to apply suitable methods to promote exports to major markets and explore possibilities for Vietnamese goods to access new, potential markets, while at the same time boosting exports to traditional markets and those that are Vietnam’s FTA partners. Appropriate measures will be taken to facilitate the export of agricultural and aquatic products to new markets. The negotiation/signing/ratification of FTAs will be accelerated. Implementation of Vietnam’s international integration commitments will be promoted.