Vietnam Increases Trade Deficit with ASEAN Nations

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Oct. 21 – Vietnam has increased its trade deficit by US$2.13 billion during the first nine months of the current fiscal year as imports from other ASEAN nations rose, according to trade statistics published this month.

During this time, total trade turnover between Vietnam and the ASEAN bloc totaled US$29.6 billion, with Vietnamese exports growing by 11 percent to US$13.7 billion. Imports from January through September were valued at US$15.85 billion.

At an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) seminar held last week, the Deputy Head of the National Committee for International Economic Cooperation, Trinh Minh Anh, reviewed steps taken by the Vietnamese government to meet the 2008 ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement. This includes the recent reduction of import duties to 0-5 percent on the vast majority of all tariffed goods, which likely accounts for the recent trade deficit growth.

Among the ASEAN nations, Malaysia has been Vietnam’s largest trade partner, followed by Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.

As members of the AEC, these Southeast Asian nations have pursued economic reforms designed to strengthen regional economic integration by 2015. According to an official press release by the AEC, their goals include “a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, equitable economic development and a region fully integrated into the world economy.”

During a meeting with business leaders this month, Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin commented on the strong economic ties between the two countries, saying that “Malaysia and Vietnam’s bilateral relationship is further supported by commitments in ASEAN which, in the next two years, will become a single integrated market with the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community.”

Bilateral trade between Vietnam and Malaysia reached US$7.9 billion in 2012, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year. As the region works to enhance regional economic cooperation, Vietnam’s two-way trade with Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia has also grown.

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