Vietnam may run a US$4 billion trade deficit at the end of this year after three consecutive years enjoying a trade surplus, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The Southeast Asian country earned $2.14 billion, $300,000, and $749 million in trade surplus in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, after two decades of trade deficits, according to official figures.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has projected Vietnam to rake in $164-164.5 billion in export revenue this year, an increase of 9.5 percent compared to 2014.
Import turnover is forecast to be at $168 billion, up 13.5 percent compared to 2014.
Thus Vietnam may suffer a trade deficit of about $4 billion, accounting for 2.4 percent of exports, much lower than the ceiling rate of five percent set by the law-making National Assembly early this year, the ministry said.
However, a breakdown of trade data showed that Vietnam’s trade deficit has been mostly caused by Vietnamese firms, which had outperformed the foreign-owned sector in terms of export for many years.
In 2014, foreign-invested businesses generated $93.9 billion in exports, while imports reached $84.19 billion, resulting in a $9.71 billion trade surplus.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese companies caused a trade deficit of $7.7 billion last year.
The National Assembly Economic Commission said in a report in October that though the national deficit remains in line with the country’s target, the most worrisome sign was that the domestic economic sector was always in deficit, which topped $56.3 billion in 2011-14.
In January-November, the domestic sector caused an $18.7 trade deficit, whereas foreign-invested firms helped the country run a $14.9 trade surplus, causing a $3.8 billion trade gap in general, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
Data from the GSO also showed that the Southeast Asian country has imported more from Southeast Asian countries, South Korea and China.
While Vietnam earned $17 billion, $8.4 billion, and $15.6 billion when shipping goods to Southeast Asian countries, South Korea and China, its imports from these markets were worth $21.8 billion, $25.6 billion, and $45.1 billion, respectively.
The GSO stressed in its monthly report that Vietnam ran a $29.5 billion trade deficit with China in the first eleven months of this year, up 13.8 percent compared with the same period of last year.