Vietnam's trade deficit widened to 6.4 billion US dollars in the first eight months, driven by higher imports of machinery and materials for production, the government said Friday.
Between January and August, Vietnam spent 37.63 billion dollars on imports, up 29.9 percent year-on-year, while exports reached 31.21 billion dollars, an increase of 19.3 percent, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said.
The GSO also released a revised trade deficit of 5.62 billion dollars for the January-July period, up from the earlier estimate of 5.45 billion dollars. Revised exports were 26.81 billion dollars and imports 32.43 billion dollars.
The trade ministry has said Vietnam's trade deficit could top eight billion dollars this year -- compared to 5.09 billion dollars in 2006, according to a government report presented to the national assembly in March.
Among imports, Vietnam spent 6.21 billion dollars on materials and equipment for production so far this year, a rise of 51.4 percent. Steel imports rose by 54.9 percent to 2.95 billion dollars, said the GSO.
Imports of oil and petroleum products reached 4.48 billion dollars, up 6.3 percent. Vietnam has large offshore crude oil deposits but no operating refinery and imports all its refined petroleum products.
The sharpest rise in imports was a 92.5 percent increase in assembled automobiles, amid a rise in orders from Vietnam's growing middle class, although the total sum was modest at 271 million dollars.
On the exports side, the country's revenues from crude oil sales -- the top export earner -- were down 11.8 percent at 5.09 billion dollars. Vietnam aims to achieve a yearly economic growth rate of between 8.2 and 8.5 percent. Its growth last year was 8.2 percent.
BVOM – September 1, 2007