The prediction was given by experts during a workshop held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Ho Chi Minh City on July 20.
According to Nguyen Viet Hung from the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDC), Vietnam’s import-export value reached US$225 billion in the first half of 2018, up nearly 13% year-on-year.
The country’s export turnover increased by 16.3% year-on-year to nearly US$114.2 billion in the reviewed period. Meanwhile, it spent US$110.8 billion on importing goods, up by 9.6%. The country enjoyed a trade surplus of US$3.4 billion in the first two quarters.
Statistics from the GDC show that Vietnam’s exports structure in 2018 is almost unchanged compared to 2017, with key exports being phones and electronic components; textiles and garments; and footwear and handbags.
Foreign-invested enterprises continue to be the main driver of Vietnam’s export growth for the year.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, domestic businesses reported a 19.9% rise in exports by shipping US$33.07 billion worth of goods abroad in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, FDI enterprises earned US$80.86 billion from exports, up 14.5% from the corresponding period last year.
Vietnam exports goods to 200 countries and territories over the world, with 27 markets reaching an export turnover of over US$1 billion, and the top 10 largest global markets accounting for 88% of the country’s export turnover.
The US remained the biggest importer of Vietnamese commodities, followed by the EU, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
Hung said with the positive growth rate reported in the first half of the year – and taking into account that second half import-export growth is always forecast higher than the first half – Vietnam’s import-export turnover is likely to hit US$475-477 billion, with a trade surplus of around US$4.5-5 billion.
Associate Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien, Director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics, attributed to the positive situation to the growth momentum from 2017.
The structure of Vietnam’s exports is shifting from exploitation sectors to processing and manufacturing industries, which can help improve the value of goods and sustain steady growth, he said.
The increasingly fierce competition among big economies also creates opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to access niche markets, thus further promoting exports, Thien added.
However, VCCI Vice Chairman Doan Duy Khuong pointed out some of the difficulties facing the sector as the country’s export turnover is mainly contributed to by FDI firms, while the trade surplus remains low and unsustainable.
Vietnamese exporters are mainly small- and medium-sized enterprises, which still cross difficulties in accessing policy and export market information regarding competitors and potential customers, Khuong said.
To improve the export value and promote the involvement of Vietnamese firms in the import-export field, it is necessary to increase the quality and supply of market forecasting, as well as taking measures to solve challenges from the tariff policy changes of Vietnam’s key trade partners.
Enterprises were advised to focus on improving their competitiveness through promoting technological application in production and being active in capturing market trends for sustainable development.