Trade surplus hits record level despite global strain

December 19, 2018 | 14:00
The official figure of trade surplus for the first 11 months of this year has been revealed at $7.41 billion, the highest ever, despite the US-China trade dispute dampening global demand.
trade surplus hits record level despite global strain

The General Department of Vietnam Customs last week announced that in the first 11 months of this year, the economy’s total export-import turnover hit $440.04 billion, up $51.76 billion, or 13.3 per cent on-year.

Total export turnover reached $223.72 billion, up 14.5 per cent on-year, or $28.33 billion. Total import turnover stood at $216.31 billion, up 12.1 per cent on-year, or $23.43 billion.

Nearly two weeks ago, the General Statistics Office reported a lower trade surplus, $6.81 billion in the first 11 months of this year, which is still much higher than the $2.8 million fetched in the same period last year.

In these figures, export turnover was estimated to be $223.63 billion, up 14.4 per cent on-year, and total import turnover was estimated to reach a record $216.82 billion, up 12.4 per cent on-year.

Over the past few months the US and China, the largest export markets for Vietnam, have been duelling with import tariffs. Despite this, Vietnamese exports to these markets remain on an uptrend.

Specifically, in the first 11 months of this year, Vietnam’s total export turnover from the US, which is the largest purchaser, was $43.7 billion, up 15 per cent on-year, and that from China, the third-largest buyer, totalled $38.1 billion, up 23.2 per cent on-year.

“Given the US-China trade war, alongside Vietnam’s recent ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the signing of the EU-Vietnam FTA, the country is steadily becoming more open to international trade and investment,” commented Kyssha Mah, an analyst from pan-Asia consulting firm Dezan Shira & Associates.

According to Mah, Vietnam is located in a strategic position for overseas businesses with operations throughout Southeast Asia, and therefore is an ideal export hub to reach other ASEAN markets.

Compared with other developing markets in the region, Vietnam is emerging as the clear leader in low-cost manufacturing and sourcing, with the country’s manufacturing sector accounting for 25 per cent of the total GDP.

Mah said that at present, labour costs in Vietnam are 50 per cent of those in China and around 40 per cent of those reported in Thailand and the Philippines. With Vietnam’s workforce growing annually, local workers are currently inexpensive, young, and, increasingly, highly skilled.

By Thanh Thu

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