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What do export statistics show?   2012-03-22 - VietNamNet

The high export turnover in 2011 has been hailed as a great achievement of the foreign trade. Especially, the turnover of many import items decreased sharply in comparison with 2010. However, big problems can be found after analyzing the figures.


Vietnam earned 3.6 billion dollars from rice exports. However, it needed to spend 2.4 billion dollars to import fertilizer and pesticide so as to generate the 2.4 billion dollars worth of rice export. It also imported 800 million dollars worth of wheat and Thai rice which is 50 percent more expensive.

Vietnam exported 6.1 billion dollars worth of seafood products, but it had to spend 484 million dollars to import materials for processing. It also had to spend money to buy feed for shrimp and fish from foreign companies in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the imports of feed and materials for making livestock feed reached 2.3 billion dollars.

Vietnam exported 628 million dollars worth of vegetables and fruits, while it imported 294 million dollars worth of the products.

Dairy exports brought the turnover of over 100 million dollars, while the imports of milk and dairy products cost 848 million dollars. The expensive foreign made dairy products make mothers worry themselves sick.

Vietnam did not export pharmacy products, while it had to import 1.6 billion dollars worth of materials and medicine products.

Vietnam could not pocket the whole sum of 20.5 billion dollars worth of garment and footwear exports, because it had to spend 12.1 billion dollars on cotton, fabric and garment material imports for domestic production.

Vietnam exported only 1.6 billion dollars worth of plastics products, but it imported much higher of up to 6.4 billion dollars.

Vietnam earned 3.6 billion dollars from rubber exports, but imported 1.3 billion dollars worth of rubber made products. It was because Vietnam exported raw materials and bought vehicle tires.

Wooden furniture products brought 3.9 billion dollars, but the real profit was much lower, because enterprises had to spend 1.3 billion dollars to import timber from ASEAN, Africa, South America and North America. In recent years, Vietnam imported one million cubic meters of artificial boards a year, while it exported millions of tons of shavings.

In the very near future, the timber export countries may stop or reduce the exports. It’s still unclear where Vietnamese wooden furniture manufacturers would find materials, when the domestic forests get exhausted.

The paper exports brought the modest income of 415 million dollars, while the imports of paper products were much higher at 1.4 billion dollars.

Vietnam exported 2.6 billion dollars worth of precious stone, precious metal, mostly jewelry gold. However, the imports were also big, reaching 2.1 billion dollars in 2011, mostly bullion gold.

The above cited import statistics do not include the expenses on fuel, machines, equipments and transport vehicles, which were indispensable to make products for exports. Meanwhile, the fuel, machines and equipments are all the imports. The above figures also do not truly reflect the import-export panorama, because Vietnam still cannot reckon up the volume of contraband goods entering Vietnam through different illegal channels.

The figures can show that though Vietnam’s export turnover was high, its profit was still modest. While the input material prices have been increasing rapidly, Vietnam’s export prices have not increased accordingly, which means that the sums of money Vietnamese businesses can earn were very small.

Especially, Vietnam has been well known as a coal exporter, but it had to import coal in 2011, or several years earlier than previously planned.

The trade gap in the foreign trade with the neighbor China has always been a headache to Vietnam. In the past, 20 Vietnamese enterprises led the market in terms of the coffee exports to China, whose exports accounted for 68 percent of the total coffee exports. However, 50 percent of the export volume has fallen into the hands of Chinese businessmen.

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