15:48 | 22/04/2015 Trade
(VEN) - Export turnover for several key categories of goods declined dramatically during the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago. This has presented a major challenge for the completion of export targets set out at the beginning of the year. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, a series of solutions to promote exports in the coming months have been outlined.
Plummeting export turnover
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, export turnover reached an estimated US$12.7 billion in March and US$35.67 billion over the whole quarter.
Trade and production activities have returned to normal since March following the long holidays in January and February. In the first quarter of this year, export turnover increased by a mere 6.9 percent compared to a year ago. This figure is considered low growth for the first quarter, since 2014 and 2013 saw increases of 14.1 and 17.6 percent, respectively. Statistics also show that export turnover of agricultural products, seafood; fuel commodities and minerals fell significantly in this period compared to a year ago, reaching an estimated US$4.25 and US$1.35 billion, a year-on-year drop of 15.8 and 37.2 percent, respectively.
Of particular concern is the decline in export turnover for agricultural products and seafood. Items such as rice, coffee, pepper, tea, fish and shrimp have all recorded a fall in export volume.
In the first quarter of this year, exports to the Asian and European markets witnessed a slight growth with an increase of 2.4 and 12.2 percent. Meanwhile, exports to key markets such as Southeast and East Asian countries recorded a decline of 1.1 and 1.3 percent. In terms of a new market group, Latin American countries and the Caribbean hit the highest growth of 31 percent, followed by Africa with 26 percent. However, a decline in export turnover in traditional markets led to a drop in a whole.
According to targets set out at the beginning of the year, export turnover is expected to reach US$165 billion. Therefore, to complete targets, export turnover in the next nine months must reach more than US$129 billion (an average of over US$14.3 billion per month). In addition, the ratio of trade deficit to total export turnover is expected to reach around five percent. However, this figure stood at 5.1 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said that the ministry has proposed several measures to promote exports in the coming months. Firstly, a series of free trade agreements (FTAs) will conclude negotiations and are expected to be signed this year. Such FTAs include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), both of which will offer fresh opportunities for businesses to promote their exports and improve competitiveness. Secondly, the ministry will continue administrative procedure reforms towards simplification and transparency. Thirdly, strengthening trade promotion activities in new and key markets has been underlined by the government as a priority. Fourthly, the ministry will cooperate with other ministries, departments and businesses to promote links in production. Finally, directing Vietnamese trade offices in foreign countries to provide information about the market, resolve international commercial disputes and protect the interests of Vietnamese businesses is needed.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s statistics, in the first quarter of this year, 10 commodity groups reached an export turnover of more than US$1 billion, including seafood, crude oil, wood and wood products, garments and textiles, leather and footwear, computers, electronic products, phones and accessories, machinery, equipment and vehicles.
By Bao Ngoc