Speaking at the Launch Ceremony of the 2017 Export-Import Report, Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh, Chairman of the Editorial Board, said that, to achieve the spectacular export and import performances of Vietnam in 2017 came from both objective and subjective factors.
Objectively, stronger global economic growth, steady prices of commodities, and expanding import markets of Vietnam are underlying factors.
Subjectively, the production capacity of enterprises improved, the market was expanded by taking advantage of opportunities from FTAs, the business environment got better and business barriers were removed.
Data released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that Vietnam's exports totalled US$214.02 billion in 2017, an increase of 21.2 per cent over 2016. This is a spectacular outcome as this was the first time in Vietnam earned more than US$200 billion from exports in a year.
Mr Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Export - Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said, eight commodities brought home over US$6 billion each, 20 commodities earned over US$2 billion each and 29 commodities fetched over US$1 billion each. The milestone of over US$1 billion was a out-of-question dream for many smaller sectors two or three years ago. The share of deeply processed products increased while the share of simply processed items declined.
He said, on the export map of Vietnam, 28 markets gave Vietnam over US$1 billion, seven markets paid over US$4 billion, and four markets bought over US$10 billion worth of products from Vietnam. No growth was seen with Africa. “Vietnam proved its ability to maintain and expand traditional markets,” he added.
On the import side, Vietnam witnessed a strong growth in import value, driven by key commodities for domestic production. This is right and necessary for a large open economy where there are many exporters.
Some positive signals were also unveiled by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, for example the all-time high trade surplus of US$2.92 billion. The US$3 billion trade surplus was also the largest ever in trade with developed countries such as the United States and the EU. The trade deficit from Asia such as ASEAN and South Korea increased rapidly in the year instead of mainly incurring this in trade with China.
Some goods are driving forces in both 2017 and 2018. Particularly, to facilitate export performance, many laws and decrees have been revised or issued to improve the business environment such as Law on Foreign Trade Administration - a big leap from the "mixed" Trade Law promulgated in 2005. Besides, export development policies with long-term strategies, orientations and visions have also been introduced.
In 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Trade implemented measures to boost exports, abolished 49 administrative procedures, simplified 143 administrative procedures, introduced a plan to reduce 675 business and investment conditions, and provided 47 online services concerning import and export. Moreover, the ministry applied measures to boost logistics capacity and launched national trade promotion programmes and national branding programmes in the year.
In addition, Mr Tran Thanh Hai emphasised that export performance was also boosted by free trade agreements (FTAs), with 17 FTAs signed, of which 11 are in effect. Businesses are showing their high interest in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement and Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which are under negotiations in 2018. EVFTA - which will cover free trade in the Eurozone - and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - which consists of six ASEAN countries and is a deeper upgrade of the ASEAN Agreement - will also be endorsed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Government in 2018.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade assesses that one of keys to export growth and utilise FTAs, especially CPTPP which regulates product components made from member countries is origin of goods but Vietnamese exporters, in fact, still do not fully realise its importance. The ministry has been promoting training in a bid to enable companies to self-grant the certificate of origin (C/O) and actively take passports to enter their target markets.
According to Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh, the data on the report are objective, accurate and honest. This will be the necessary for businesses, organisations and industries to have an overview look and a foundation to make important and useful business decisions in development strategies and import-export activities.
This is the second year the Ministry of Industry and Trade released this report.