Monday, October 29, 2007

Vietnam trade gap seen soaring to $8.9 billion

* Industrial output to rise 17 percent

HANOI: Vietnam’s trade deficit will more than double to $8.9 billion in the first 10 months of 2007 from $4 billion in the same period last year due to a 30.5 percent surge in imports, the government said on Friday.

January to October imports raised to an estimated $48 billion while exports brought in $39.1 billion, up 18.6 percent from a year earlier, the government statistics office said in a report.

Vietnam’s main export during the period was 12.4 million tonnes of crude oil, which earned $6.65 billion, followed by textiles, which earned $6.4 billion. However, the country spent $5.85 billion on importing 10.4 million tonnes of refined oil products, the report said.

A National Assembly report on Monday said consumer goods would account for only $1 billion of this year’s forecast $9 billion trade deficit. The rest would come from spending on machinery and technology.

The government expects a wider trade deficit this year as foreign investment has been pouring in since Vietnam joined the World Trade Organisation in January. The deficit in 2006 was $4.81 billion.

However Vietnam’s January-to-October industrial output is expected to rise 17 percent from a year earlier to 467.93 trillion dongs ($29 billion), but crude oil production has slowed.

Crude oil production during the first 10 months is expected o fall 11.4 percent from the same period last year to 12.82 bllion tonnes, the government’s General Statistics Office said n a monthly report.

Crude exports, one of Vietnam’s top foreign exchange earners, in January-to-October fell 7.5 percent from a year earlier to $6.56 billion, the statistics office said.

However, production of cars, machinery and air-conditioners in the nine-month period extended the strong growth since the start of the year, rising by between 60.5 percent and 83.9 from a year earlier.

The state sector was estimated to grow 10.3 percent during the first 10 months.

Production by enterprises outside state control was also expected to expand in the January-to-October period, growing 20.8 percent from a year earlier. reuters