HCM CITY — Exports by foreign firms topped US$15.54 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 43 per cent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
With their deep pockets, technologies, and stable markets, FDI firms, especially in the processing, electronics, and mobile-phone industries, enjoyed particularly strong growth, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Thanh Bien told a review conference on exports in HCM City on Tuesday.
For instance, Samsung, whose exports last year were worth $6 billion, has earned $1 billion a month this year, he said.
However, domestic firms failed to show any dynamism, achieving only $8.98 billion in exports, or the same as last year.
Despite unfavourable internal and external factors, overall the country saw good growth in exports, which rose 23.6 per cent to $24.5 billion, Bien said.
Eight items topped the $1 billion mark, including seafood, coffee, crude oil, garment and textile, computer and electronic products, and telephones and components.
He said many sectors achieved high export growth: 39 per cent by the processing industry, 180 per cent by telephones and components, 98 per cent by electronic products and components, 40.3 per cent by rubber products, and 58.7 per cent by steel products.
On the other hand, items like rice, coffee, and cassava saw sharp falls in terms of both volume and value due to falling global demand, he said.
The world economic downturn and public debt crisis in Europe have badly affected Viet Nam's key export markets. Besides, the prices of many goods have fallen from earlier this year.
But the greatest difficulty faced by businesses was the lack of funds, conference participants agreed.
The interest rates on bank loans remained too high despite the recent fall. Export firms, especially small and medium-sized ones, also complained about their inability to get bank loans.
Many business groupings called on the Government to reschedule their loans to help them tide over the current difficulty.
Nguyen Thai Hoc, chairman of the Viet Nam Cashew Association, said agro-forestry and fisheries products are very price sensitive.
"Interest rates on bank loan should be around 12 per cent, and businesses find it very difficult at the current 16-17 per cent rate, especially at a time of falling prices and high inventory," he said.
About 40 per cent of cashew firms are facing liquidity problems, with some not having enough funds to even repay their old loans, he said.
This year the industry needs about VND6 trillion ($287 million) to buy 350,000 tonnes of raw cashew from farmers and another VND6 trillion to import 300,000 tonnes for processing for export, he said.
He urged the trade ministry to help the industry with regard to interest rates and the cash crunch.
Many participants called on the ministry to set rules for export of goods like cashew and rubber to control quality and safeguard the prestige of Vietnamese goods.
Bien called on business groupings to chalk out measures to resolve the difficulties faced by their members. — VNS