HA NOI — Viet Nam would have to work hard to maintain the export turnover growth it experienced in the first quarter to reach the US$108 billion target, said deputy minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Nam Hai.
During the three month period, the industrial production index was much lower than GDP, though the industry had seen progress, Hai said.
Figures released by the ministry showed that in the first three months of the year, total export turnover reached $24.5 billion, representing an increase of 24 per cent over the same period last year while import turnover was $24.77 billion.
The trade deficit was $251 million, a $3 million fall from the same period last year while the industrial production index rose by only 4 per cent, a decrease from last year.
"Export prices have been on a downward trend after a surge last year. This has had a considerable effect on business effectiveness, especially among those importing materials for production of export goods," he said.
The deputy minister said the domestic market had been stable as investigations and checks were carried out, especially on items including petroleum, gas and milk.
Total circulation of goods and services in the period increased 22 per cent against last year, although it was the lowest increase in the past few years.
The ministry has asked its relevant agencies to improve technologies and management, and to use locally-produced machines and materials to reduce costs, prices and increase businesses effectiveness.
It would also update prices and consider changes in the world market in order to implement measures to untie difficulties that face businesses and people.
Enterprises, especially small-and medium-sized ones, have had difficulty accessing bank loans despite lower interest rates, Hai said, adding that timely support should be given to businesses to pay back their loans.
The ministry said it would implement the first phase of the national promotion programme to search for and expand export markets for agricultural and fishery items.
"Promoting domestic consumption would be a factor to enhance production in the context of difficulties. The ministry will strongly implement the domestic promotion programme, focusing on selling to rural areas and industrial zones, and expanding the retail system," he said.
However, he recommended businesses to take the initiative to promote trade themselves due to the programme's limited budget of VND15 billion (US$714,286), equal to 27 per cent of last year's budget.
In response to worries about the effects of a halt in rice exports to the Philippines, the ministry's deputy head of the Import-Export Department Phan Thi Dieu Ha said this would not have a significant impact on Viet Nam's market as the Philippines made the announcement that it would stop importing rice in 2010.
Ha said they had told businesses to actively seek new markets including in the Middle East, Africa and mainland China, as well as promote rice exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The department had also instructed localities to adjust their transport plans for watermelons which have been stuck at the Tan Thanh Bordergate in northern Lang Son Province, she said.
In response to questions about gas prices that had remained unchanged at several gas distributors despite a price reduction last week, head of the Market Watch Department Truong Quang Hoai Nam said market watch forces nationwide would continue to conduct checks to punish violators. — VNS