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Trade surplus follows fall in consumption(03/08/09)


HCM CITY — Viet Nam is likely to reach a trade surplus of US$390 million in the first two months of the year as exports increase and imports drop due to a sharp fall in consumption at home, according to trade officials.

Export activities in February picked up markedly over last month and is estimated at $4.3 billion, an increase of 15.6 per cent over January and 25.1 per cent over February 2008.

Export increases were seen in agricultural products like rice, cashew, coffee and pepper. The Southern Food Corporation has in the last two months shipped 1.5 million tonnes of rice to the Philippines, more than double the amount last year.

This year,the corporation plans to export 2.8 million tonnes of rice and earn more than VND30.6 trillion ($1.7 billion). Other farm products have also seen strong export growth: pepper up by 63 per cent, cashew by 20 per cent, and coffee by 10.8 per cent.

Crude oil export also posted an increase of 26.7 per cent in the last two months in terms of volume compared with the same period last year. This is attributed to exploitation of new oil mines this year.

The textile and garment industry, despite facing many difficulties due to the global economic crisis, still gained an increase of 0.7 per cent in value. Meanwhile, the world garment market suffered a fall of 30 per cent in prices.

Trade officials attributed the industry’s export growth to the fact that many foreign export markets have turned to high-level garment products and left the low- end market to Vietnamese businesses in 2009.

In addition, the government is implementing measures to prevent further economic depression. It has issued flexible monetary policies to stabilise the foreign exchange rate and provided interest subsidies on loans to small and medium -sized enterprises to help them maintain production.

Falling imports

Viet Nam has successfully begun producing commodities like fertilizers, materials for garment industry, footwear and oil products like petroleum and plastics which had been imported in large volumes previously.

This means Viet Nam has gained initial achievements in reducing trade deficits that have built up over many years. In the first two months of this year, imports of fertilizers and garment materials dropped by 23.3 per cent and 27.1 per cent respectively.

The commissioning of the Dung Quat Oil Refinery in the central province of Quang Ngai late last month has greatly contributed to national economic development.

The refinery will use 3.5 million tonnes of crude oil exploited locally to process two million tonnes of refined oil products in the first year of production. This will help the industry reduce imports of oil products which account for seven per cent of the country’s total imports. — VNS


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