Vietnam import - export 2016 & prospects 2017

(VLR) (Vietnam Logistics Review) The year of 2016, the first year of the 5-year plan 2016- 2020, is the year of recovery for Vietnam’s economy: inflation is controlled at the low level; basic balances of the economy is secured; GDP growth was at around 6.21%; import- export remained in the trend of growing and many measurements have been carried out to push up import - export in the situation of global and regional trade growth on the decrease.

(Vietnam Logistics Review) The year of 2016, the first year of the 5-year plan 2016- 2020, is the year of recovery for Vietnam’s economy: inflation is controlled at the low level; basic balances of the economy is secured; GDP growth was at around 6.21%; import- export remained in the trend of growing and many measurements have been carried out to push up import - export in the situation of global and regional trade growth on the decrease.

Trading and service activities have contributed into the growth and stability of the macroeconomy: import- export sector had a better growth this year than the previous one and had export surplus.

Import - export achivements in 2016

Export Vietnam export in 2016 remained at its growth, bringing surplus to reach USD 2.68bn and Vietnam’s import- export turnover reached USD 300bn on November 15th, 2016- an impressive result. Total import- export turnover of the country in 2016 estimatedly reached USD 175.9bn- an increase of 8.6% compared to 2015 (Table 1).

Major export goods in 2016 are machines, equipment, spare parts with export value of USD 34.505bn- an increase of 14.4% compared to 2015. Cellphones of all kinds and accessories reached export value of over USD 24.96bn- an increase of 8.6% compared to 2015. Electronic devices, computers and accessories reached export value of USD 18.48bn- an increase of 18.48%. Footwear reached USD 12.92bn- an increase of 7.6%; aqua-product reached USD 7.02bn- an increase of 6.9%; the amount of export coffee reached 1,794,000 tons- an increase of 33.7%; the amount of peppercorn reached 176,000 tons- an increase of 34.2%; the amount of cashew, tea and rubber had an increase from 6.1-9% compared to 2015. Vietnam’s major export products in 2016 account for 2/3 the total export turnover (shown in chart 1).

Value of export goods from FDI enterprises estimatedly reached USD 125.9bn- an increase of 10.2% compared to 2015, accounting for 71.6% of the total export turnover of the country.

Vietnam has had trading relationship with 240 nations and territories, and its products have appeared on 29 export markets, and 19 import markets reaching the turnover of over USD 1bn. Total export turnover on the markets normally account for 90% of the export turnover (and 88% export turnover of the country’s). In 2016, trading exchange between Vietnam and other continents was maintained, excluding a decrease of 4.7% in export to ASEAN markets. Compared to 2015, export of rice decreased 25.7%; crude oil, 24.1%, coal, 26.1% in term of amount compared to 2015. Besides, not making good use of opportunities of forming ASEAN economic communities, free trade agreements that come to effect, weak logistics infrastructures that lead to high logistics costs are reason that resulted in low export growth.

In 2016 Vietnam had trade surplus of nearly USD2.7 bn. With the export turnover of 1.52%, it can be considered a bright spot. However, our export activities have not been able to overcome existing weakness from many years: export goods are traditional products, mostly outsourced ones, and export surplus mostly from FDI enterprises. There are many issues coming from weak systems of trade and logistics: road fees are more than fees for gas; fee -collecting BOT stations are likely to be located on key transport route, causing an increase in logistics costs and a decrease in competition abilities. These things resulted in low growth of export, even a decrease in export products of advantages in the country. These are challenges for the field of export in the years to come, especially in the year of 2017.

Import Together with the forming of ASEAN Economic Community on December 31st, 2015, 90% tariff among member will decrease to 0% and the rest 10% will decrease to 0% in 2018; free trade agreements will come to effect. These things will give many opportunities for Vietnam’s enterprises and open a large market to speed up import- export activities. On the contrary, high quality goods from other countries, which Vietnam consumers trust, will flood to Vietnam. Actually, compared to regional countries, Vietnam always has import surplus.

In the region, Vietnam has large import surplus to China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. China always rank first in all Vietnam’s import surplus markets with products of machines, equipment and materials. To December 15th, 2016, products as machines, equipment, spare parts, fabric of various kinds, textile accessorties, shoe leather, steel of various kinds in import markets mainly came from China. Steel imported from China account for 2/3 of the total imported steel to Vietnam.

Import turnover in 2016 estimatedly reached USD 173.3bn, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2015. Fields with foreign investments reached USD 102.2bn, an increase of 5.1%; fields of local economy only reached USD 50.0bn. Electric products, computers and accessorties in 2016 imported estimatedly reached USD 27.8bn, an increase of 20.1% compared to 2015; various cellphones and accessories reached USD10.5bn, a decrease of 0.3%; machines, equipment and spare parts reached USD 28.1bn- an increase of 1.8%; chemistry subtances imported with turnover of USD 3.2bn- an increase of 1%; medicine imported with turnover of USD 2.5bn- an increase of 8.9%; in term of quantity, paper imported with the amount of 1,989,000 tons, an increase of 15.5%; gas imported, 11,471,000 tons, an increase of14.25; steel imported, 18,428,000 tons, an increase of 18.8% compared to 2015 (Chart 2).

The production of exported goods of Vietnam in 2016 depends much on materials imported from foreign countries for local production cannot meet requirements from producers. Most of exported goods are outsourced. In Asian markets, China is Vietnam’s largest import market, with high turnover and growth to many technical materials. The chart clearly shows data of materials provided to Vietnam in 10 months of 3 consecutive years (Chart 4).

Imported goods from China mainly machine, equipment, devices and spare parts; steel; materials and accessories for textile, shoe leather; various cellphones and accessories; computer; electric products and accessories… Compared to 2015, the import turnover from Asia in the total export turnover was of major portion, around 80%. Trade balance in 2016 estimatedly reached USD 2.68bn, equally to 1.52% compared to export. FDI area has an export surplus of USD 23.7bn. Import surplus of local economic zone estimatedly reached USD 21.0bn. Therefore, import surplus in 2016 was still from the local economic zone, which proved limited competition abilities of local enterprises. Enterprises have not made good use of opportunities of expanding markets and free trade agreements coming to effect, although in 2016, there were 110,000 newly established enterprises with the total registered capital of VND 891,094bn- a record number.

Import - export prospects in 2017

In 2017, the world economy, according to many predictions from international organizations, keeps recovering with the higher growth of GDP than in 2016. World trade estimatedly increases 1.8- 3.1%. The 4th Industrial Revolution on continents is an opportunity for developing countries to adopt advanced technology but at the same time, it creates fierce competitions among regions and various economies. In the country, stable microeconomy and controlled inflation will facilitate economic growth. The course of international integration of Vietnam in 2017 will be deeper, stronger and more comprehensive. Besides, with the event of Brexit, increasing trend of trade protectionism, China’s economic downturn, and increasing price of US dollars will directly affect Vietnam’s export. In addition, low competition ability, low growth quality, weak infrastructures, and weak logistics infrastructures also ruin competition abilities of Vietnam’s export goods, especially in the year of 2017- the second year in the 5-year plan of 2016- 2020. The Government’s report at the 2nd meeting section of the Nation’s Assembly of the term 14th identified particular targets for import- export in 2017:

» Import turnover is expectedly around USD 190.0bn, an increase of 9- 10% compared to 2016, in which section with foreign investment will reach USD 109.0bn, accounting for 57.3% of the total import turnover.

» Import surplus in 2017 is expectedly around USD 6.5bn with the rate 3.5% compared to export value.

To achieve the targets and duties, the report clearly showed “ Speeding up trade promotion, expanding import- export market going well with branding of Vietnam goods, and taking part in global and regional production network and value chains… Shifting export mechanism to products with high rate of high technology, grey matters, deep processing and applying advanced modern technology; improving competition abilities in import- export in ASEAN markets and in other world markets; improving mechanisms, policies, law on logistics services, improving competition abilities of service products and activities of service enterprises, especially with sectors of high potentials and competition advantages…”.

Besides, to achieve targets of import- export in 2017 and in the coming years, there should be breakthrough solutions from policies to activities to speed up Vietnam’s goods flow and import-export which used to be of small scale and low efficiency compared to regional countries when FTAs take effect. First, we considered developing logistics solutions as breakthrough ones to improve quality and efficiency in sectors, enterprises and local authorities, especially in the fields of production, delivery, transport and services; there should be solutions to connect sectors, local authorities and enterprises by “logistics centers”; national and regional logistics information transaction floors should be developed to optimize delivery process, to advoid congestions at big cities; a logistics system including legal mechanism, logistics infrastructures, logistics enterprises and enterprises using logistics services, should be built; logistics centers should be built on key routes as National Road 1A, HCM Road, express ways and gateways to large cities to connect means of transport in transport, consuming and export goods; building modern logistics infrastructures as premises for Vietnam to carry out FTAs efficiently. There should be strategies and plans for developing logistics infrastructures and measurements to limit BOT fee- collecting stations on national roads, except those on completely new-built routes; there should be a national TV channel with information about trade and transport matters, especially about optimizing flows of goods, information and currency; about building the logistics system, about connecting sectors, and enterprises; about experience on developing logistics services and business efficiency, which helps speed up the progress of restructuring Vietnam economy in the condition of deep integration to the world economy

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