Vietnam posts trade surplus despite export growth plunge in first quarter

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, export turnover reached US$59.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020, which was up 0.5 percent over the same period in 2019 but still the lowest growth rate since 2003.

Handicraft making in Hoc Mon District, HCMC (Photo: SGGP)

Handicraft making in Hoc Mon District, HCMC (Photo: SGGP)

In spite of the down growth, Vietnam still posted the trade surplus of $2.78 billion, higher than that during the same period in 2019.
Of the total export turnover, domestic enterprises got $18.65 billion increasing 8.7 percent year on year while foreign direct investment (FDI) sector saw a decline of 2.9 percent.
Estimating the export market, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that export and import in China, South Korea and Japan showed signs of recovery in March as the Covid-19 pandemic has gradually been controlled.
The Vietnam Export in Singapore estimated that the Covid-19 pandemic has raised much difficulty in trade but brought opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to increase export the Singaporean market.
Specifically the total export import turnover between Vietnam and Singapore went up 8.44 percent compared to the same period last year to reach $2.65 billion. Of these, Vietnam’s export value to Singapore increased 35.74 percent. In March alone, the Vietnam Export in Singapore connected the two sides to export about 500 tons of foods and fruits from Vietnam to Singapore.
The export increase was attributed to Singapore’s efforts to diversify supply sources of materials and goods amid interrupted supply from China.
Other groups of export goods have seen postive signs. For instance, Pangasius fish export was used to be dependent in China, currently businesses have been finding new potential markets such as India.
In addition, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement has been approved by the EU Parliament, opening opportunities for Pangasius fish export companies which have been preparing for the tariff fall to 0 percent in the next three years.
At the end of 2019, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially recognized Vietnam’s Pangasius fish quality control system. The recognition affirms that Vietnam’s quality control ability meets the US market requirements, which is among the strictest in the world. That makes it easier for Vietnamese Pangasius fish firm to get access to other strict markets besides the US and broaden export markets.
Still the Ministry of Industry and Trade predicted that travel restriction measures due to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic will continue affecting Vietnam’s export and import activities in the upcoming time. Moreover the weather condition has not been advantageous with drought and salt intrusion taking place sooner than usual affecting crop productivity and output in the Mekong Delta this year. The African swine fever epidemic has not been fully controlled causing supply fail to meet domestic demand.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai reveals that the ministry is studying and estimating impacts of Covid-19 prevention measures on trade in large export markets to give impact forecasts to groups of goods and propose support policies to businesses.
The Ministry is also reviewing  export markets to select those able to make up the export turnover reduction from China and draw up a suitable trade promotion plan for 2020.
Aside from that the ministry has been working to give forecasts about the pandemic impacts on Vietnam’s economic growth this year to have timely reports to the Government about management policies, as well as to provide information for businesses and industries to take the initiative in building plans to overcome difficulties and recover after the pandemic comes under control.
The Ministry will report to the Government about document submission for approval of the EVFTA to the President to sign and then submit to the National Assembly to approve in the coming session to boost export at the end of this year to make up the difficulties in the beginning months of the year.
Vietnam posts trade surplus despite export growth plunge in first quarter ảnh 1 Handicraft making in Hoc Mon District, HCMC (Photo: SGGP)

By Thuy Hai – Translated by Phuong Ho

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