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Exports reach nearly $63 billion in 2008   2008-12-25 - Viet Nam News

Export turnover in 2008 reached nearly US$63 billion, an increase of 29.5 per cent over last year despite the global economic downturn, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Apparel exports followed with $9.1 billion, up 17.5 per cent over last year.

However, the GSO said if there had been no re-exporting of steel and gold, which the country had imported in the early months of the year, Viet Nam's export turnover in the whole year might only add up to $55.1 billion, amounting to a much smaller 13.5 per cent surge.

Despite the shrinkage of both the export market and prices due to the global economic slowdown, eight different export products earned the country more than $2 billion each. In 2008, coffee and rice were added to the list of large-revenue earners.

Crude oil topped the list of export commodities with an export volume of 13.9 million tonnes worth $10.4 billion. The crude oil export decreased 7.7 per cent in terms of volume, but surged 23.1 per cent in terms of value.

Apparel exports followed with $9.1 billion, up 17.5 per cent over last year. However, the industry still fell slightly short of its annual target of $9.2 billion set by the Government.

With growth rates of 17.6 and 21.2 per cent, footwear and seafood also fetched the country $4.7 and $4.5 billion, respectively.

The GSO said the US remained the country's biggest export market this year with $11.6 billion. Key export staples to the market include apparel, crude oil, wood and wood products, footwear and seafood.

ASEAN countries also made the list of Viet Nam's major export markets, since the region spent $10.2 billion for importing goods from Viet Nam.

The figures for EU and Japan were nearly $10 billion and $8.8 billion, respectively.

Despite the annual export achievement , GSO experts still warned about the decreasing trend of export turnover since August. The country hit a record low in November with only $4.2 billion in export turnover. The figure in December inched up a little to $4.9 billion.

Trade deficit

The country's trade deficit in 2008 was restricted to $17 billion, roughly $3 billion lower than expected.

This year the country imported a total of $79.9 billion worth of goods, up 27.5 per cent over last year, due to the price increase of many kinds of imported goods and materials in the first quarters of the year.

GSO experts said this year's trade deficit could be held to less than $16 billion if authorities and businesses could make better forecasts about global demand and price. Exporters of rice and coffee did not successfully increase export volume at a time when prices for these products were high. Another issue was the importing of steel and fertiliser when the products' prices had skyrocketed.

There was a change in the proportion of import commodities in 2008, said the GSO. The country had to spend more for the import of consumer goods, while disbursing less for the import of materials and equipment. Disbursement for consumer goods increased consecutively in the last months of the year from $287 million in August to $390 in November.

Increased consumption of imported goods would create more competition for domestic producers, warned the GSO.

The country in 2008 had to spend $10.8 billion for the import of petrol, up 40.2 per cent over last year, due to the soaring import price of the product in first months of the year.

Meanwhile, a total of $6.3 billion was spent for the import of steel and iron this year. The figures for textile fabrics and electronic items were $4.4 and 3.7 billion, respectively.

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