Despite a big rise in the prices of construction materials and fuel, a 5-year low in the consumer price index caused by weak demand in the first five months of 2021 is signalling a successful control of inflation.
Dang Duc Anh, vice director of the National Centre for Socio-Economic Information and Forecast, told VIR that in spite of some recovery in production in the economy causing a climb in the prices of many items in the market, the government may still keep the inflation target at about 4 per cent this year.
“Weak demand at home and in the global market are generally there. In the first five months, prices have increased, but not too strongly. COVID-19 has led to tightened spending,” Anh said.
According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), in the first five months of 2021, the average 5-month consumer price index expanded 1.29 per cent on-year, the lowest ascension in the period since 2016 (see chart).
Vietnam is using prices of 11 groups of items to measure the inflation rate in the country. In the period, the average price of the groups rose by about over 1 per cent on-year. Notably in the group of housing and materials, in which the average price rose 4.42 per cent on-year, the steel price has augmented strongly.
The Vietnam Steel Association was cited by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Department of Industrial Economy as reporting that due to a rise in input material prices in the global market, the domestic price of steel products has also climbed strongly. In May the average steel billet price hovered at VND14,000 (60 US cents) per kg, up 30 per cent against that in early last December.
The price of construction steel in Vietnam in early May increased in parallel with the rise in steel material price. For example, the price of iron ores on May 5 was around $190 per tonne at China’s Tianjin Port, up by about $50 per tonne or up 25-39 per cent as compared to that in early December. This has caused a big rise in the price of the domestic steel market in the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter.
“The price of materials is likely to highly increase,” said department director Le Tuan Anh.
In the same vein, the price of oil globally has also increased. By late last week, oil prices rose by more than 3 per cent on renewed optimism about global demand as global vaccinations continue.
Goldman Sachs is expecting the price of global crude oil to rise to $80 per barrel by the end of the year. “The case for higher oil prices therefore remains intact given the large vaccine-driven increase in demand in the face of inelastic supply,” Goldman analysts said.
So far this year, the number of enterprises halting operations was 59,800, up 23 per cent on-year. On average, each month has seen nearly 12,000 enterprises withdraw. This has also reduced demand for goods in the market.
Global analysts FocusEconomics told VIR in a statement that price pressures in Vietnam this year are expected to ease slightly compared to 2020 amid a projected appreciation of the VND, with panelists seeing inflation average well below the government’s estimate of 4 per cent.
“FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect inflation to average 2.9 per cent in 2021. For 2022, the panel projects inflation to average 3.6 per cent,” read the FocusEconomics statement.