HA NOI — The country's trade deficit rose to US$100 million in January, accounting for 1.54 per cent of the total export value, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reported yesterday at a press conference in Ha Noi.
Total export value during January was at $6.5 billion, down 11 per cent against the same period last year.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Nam Hai attributed the low figure to an extended Tet holiday along with the global economic slowdown and tightened-belt policies of the countries in the world.
Of the total value, local companies exported $2.27 billion last month, a 33 per cent year-on-year decrease. However, foreign-invested firms earned $4.23 billion from exports, up 7.9 per cent. This partly helped ease the downturn in export turnover. Handphones and spare parts exports by foreign companies were especially strong earners.
However, the export values of most commodities decreased sharply. Rice exports suffered the biggest fall (at 53 per cent), while minerals, coffee, cassava and coal fell by about 40 per cent.
In contrast, export turnover of steel and iron products increased by 24 per cent, while vehicles and spare parts exports rose by 21 per cent.
Exports to almost all markets, including Asia, the EU, the Americas, Africa, Japan and China, decreased. Exports to the US showed the largest downturn of 14 per cent.
Viet Nam imported about $6.6 billion in January, of which Vietnamese firms saw $3.1 billion in imports, down 35 per cent against the same period last year, while foreign companies spent $3.5 billion on imports, up 5.2 per cent.
Imports of raw materials, accessories, machinery and equipment for the oil and gas industry, textile and garment sector and steel manufacturing saw decreases of between 25 per cent to 56 per cent. However, Viet Nam spent more on importing wheat and milk products.
Hai said the global economy would continue seeing volatility and the ministry would bolster trade promotion activities to meet targets on narrowing the trade deficit this year.
"The deficit was at about $10 billion last year, which was the lowest rate for the past decade," he said. — VNS