Friday, September 28, 2007

Vietnam's 9-month trade gap at record $7.6 billion

Vietnam's trade deficit in the first nine months is estimated to reach a record US$7.6 billion due to a surge in imports of machinery for big infrastructure projects, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.

The Nguoi Lao Dong quoted the Industry and Trade Ministry as saying imports of machinery jumped 55 percent from the same period last year to $7.2 billion.

The report said steel and feed imports jumped 66.5 percent and 51 percent to $2.65 billion and $897 million respectively.

The government is expected to release full trade statistics for the January-September period this week.

State media reported this week that exports would rise nearly 20 percent to $35.6 billion in the first nine months, with textiles surpassing crude oil as the largest export item.

Textiles would earn $5.8 billion, a rise of 31 percent from a year earlier, while crude oil would generate $5.78 billion.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast exports this year of between $48 billion and $50 billion and imports of between $57 billion and $58 billion, meaning the deficit could be double the $4.81 billion logged in 2006.

The country is the world's top exporter of black pepper and cashew nuts and ranks second in sales of coffee and rice.