Việt Nam reaches record trade surplus in 2023

Friday, Dec 29, 2023 07:45

Hải Phòng Port. Việt Nam's total import-export turnover in 2023 is estimated to reach $683 billion. —VNA/VNS Photo

Việt Nam this year continued to achieve a trade surplus for the eighth consecutive year, being estimated at US$26 billion, three times higher than in 2022. This is a trade surplus record for many years.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), total import-export turnover in 2023 is estimated to reach $683 billion, including $354.5 billion from exports and $328.5 billion from imports.

The trade surplus of $26 billion has helped increase foreign exchange reserves, and stabilise exchange rate and other macroeconomic indicators of the economy.

From the beginning of the year until now, Việt Nam has faced many difficulties in import and export activities. Exports, one of the three important pillars of economic growth (investment, export and consumption) had double-digit reduction since the first quarter of 2023, with a decrease of almost 12 per cent compared to the same period last year.

However, continuously in the last seven months of the year, exports regained growth momentum after a previous period of deep decline. In particular, from July to the end of the year, export value reached more than $30 billion each month.

Ministries, including the MoIT, and sectors along with businesses and associations deployed many trade promotion solutions and utilised free trade agreements (FTAs) to maintain exports to main markets, reaching the target of 2023. Thanks to those efforts, exports gradually regained their growth rate. 

Trần Thanh Hải, deputy director of the Import-Export Department, MoIT, said in the difficult situation, many export products have still maintained significant turnover. For example, fruit and vegetable exports and rice exports are bright spots. Their positive results have showed the business's strong recovery and market expansion.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in 2023, the agricultural, forestry and fishery export value is estimated to reach over $53 billion, fulfilling 96.3 per cent of the plan assigned by the Prime Minister at the beginning of the year. 

The agriculture sector's trade surplus in 2023 is over $11 billion, the highest level in recent years and accounting for over 42.5 per cent of the country's trade surplus. 

Especially, according to the General Department of Customs, by the first half of December, Vietnam exported more than 7.9 million tonnes of rice, worth over $4.5 billion, an increase of 11 per cent in volume and 29 per cent in value compared to the same period in 2022.

Experts estimate that in 2023, rice exports could reach 8.2 million tonnes worth nearly $4.8 billion, reaching the highest level since 1989 - the year Việt Nam started exporting rice.

Việt Nam's previous rice export record was only about 7.1 million tonnes in 2011 and 2022.

This result also shows the quality of the country's rice is increasing and meeting strict requirements from demanding markets. It also reflects that traders are well taking advantage of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and Government trade promotion programmes.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association forecasts fruit and vegetable exports in 2023 will reach $5.6 billion – an industry record. This figure surpasses the original year’s plan by 40 per cent and is up about 66 per cent from the same period in 2022.

Fruit and vegetable exports have the leading export turnover among agricultural products, including key products such as rice, cashew nuts, coffee and cassava. Notably, durian has become the "champion" in the group of exported fruits and vegetables with very high growth rate because Việt Nam has promoted the licensing process for official export to China for Vietnamese durian products.

Phùng Đức Tiến, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the VNĐ15 trillion support package for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector has helped businesses have more financial resources to reserve raw materials, increase processing and enhance trade promotion. 

The agriculture expects to reach the export target of $53 - 54 billion in 2023.

However, Lê Quốc Phương, former deputy director of the Industry and Trade Information Centre, MoIT, said that the trade surplus of $26 billion is partly caused by the sharp decrease in imports.

According to Phương, Việt Nam is mainly to process and assemble products, so it must import a lot of components and raw material, for example exported products such as phones, electronic components, textiles, garments and footwear. Therefore, the decrease in imports shows that the production situation of enterprises is still facing many difficulties.

Therefore, Phương held that it is necessary to increase the localisation rate and promote high technology use to have sustainable development in exports.

Some economic experts believed that Việt Nam needs to focus on promoting key export products such as agricultural products. At the same time, it should pay attention to quality issues. Particularly for seafood exports, Việt Nam must actively work to remove the European Union's yellow card warning. 

In addition, the agriculture should promote processing of added value products. 

Meanwhile, the MoIT will promote green export promotion solutions.

Vũ Bá Phú, director of the Department of Trade Promotion, MoIT, said green transformation is a vital trend, so the ministry has been focusing on solutions to support businesses, industries and localities to implement green transformation in 2024 and beyond.

Relevant ministries and branches will have to quickly supplement and improve the legal framework, providing standards and regulations on green transformation for each specific field.

To develop export markets, the ministry will promote negotiations and sign new agreements, commitments and trade links, such as FTAs with other potential partners (UAE, MERCOSUR...) to diversify markets, products and supply chains.

It will also coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to negotiate with China to open markets for other Vietnamese fruit and vegetable products such as green-skinned grapefruit, fresh coconuts, avocados, pineapples, star apple, lemon and melon.

In 2024, the MOIT aims to increase total export turnover by over 6 per cent compared to 2023. — VNS



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