They are expected to earn US$113 billion by year-end, up 16.6 percent over 2011 and above the target set by the National Assembly (NA).
Total imports are estimated at US$114 billion, up 6.8 percent against last year while the import surplus level accounts for just 1 percent of total export earnings, much lower than the figure stated in the NA Resolution.
Vietnam’s US$34 million trade surplus in the first nine months of 2012 lifted the overall balance of payment to more than US$8 billion – an impressive figure compared to the same period last year (US$2.65 billion).
However, there is growing concern about the competitiveness of home-made goods. The NA Economic Affairs Committee says local exports are still at a disadvantage as last year’s export earnings from the domestic invested sector dropped by 0.6 percent to US$31.3 billion while those from the foreign-invested sector rose 34.6 percent to US$52.5 billion.
There is also fear about a continuous drop in the input power and overall demand of the national economy in the face of lower import surplus and inflation rates recorded in the first three quarters of this year.
However, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is still optimistic about export performance in the near future, saying disadvantages are primarily caused by objective factors, and surging prices on the global market will help push up Vietnam’s export prices sooner or later. The current drop in market demands and export prices is blamed on the slow recovery of the world economy, especially in developed countries, the MPI says.
In a recent report to the NA Standing Committee, MPI Minister Bui Quang Vinh stressed the need to boost exports and strictly control the import of non-merit goods.
Regarding the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s proposal for a number of measures to promote export growth, Dr. Cao Si Kiem, a member of the NA Economic Affairs Committee, says they are unlikely to solve newly-emerging snags in the import-export sector.
Kiem says it is possible to fetch US$124.3 billion in total export turnover by the end of 2013 (10 percent higher than this year’s figure). But the bottom line is that the domestic-invested sector should focus on boosting exports one way or another.
What economists are concerned about is Vietnam’s remaining too dependent on some key export markets like the US and European Union (EU) to achieve sustainable growth.
Reality shows that after enjoying an export surplus with the US for years, Vietnam has run into trouble more than once when the latter put up technical barriers to maintain its trade balance.