The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) expected the country’s exports to expand by 6-8% in 2022 and a positive trade balance to ensure the GDP growth stays in the range of 6-6.5%.
|Cargos handling for export at Dinh Vu port, Haiphong. Photo: Pham Hung|
Statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) revealed the country’s trade turnover in 2021 reached US$668.55 billion, representing a staggering increase of over $100 billion from a record $545 billion in 2020.
Upon breaking down, the country’s exports were estimated at over $336.3 billion, rising 19% year-on-year, and imports of $332.2 billion, going up by 26.5%. This resulted in a trade surplus of more than $4 billion for 2021, marking Vietnam’s sixth consecutive year of trade surplus.
With trading activities being seen as a key growth driver for Vietnam in 2022, Deputy Director of the MoIT’s Import and Export Department Tran Thanh Hai noted the necessity for Vietnam to take better advantage of major free trade agreements (FTAs) that Vietnam is a part of, including the EVFTA, CPTPP, and RCEP.
“Vietnam should further diversify export markets and products via digital platforms to ensure trade sustainability,” Hai said as he referred to recent trade congestion at Vietnam-China border gates while calling for local firms to pay more attention to environmental standards, product quality, and rules of origin in different markets.
Sharing Hai’s view, Nguyen Cam Trang from the Import and Export Department attributed Vietnam’s strong trading performance to the impacts of new generation trade deals.
According to Trang, Vietnam’s exports to the UK rose by 15.4% in 2021 when the UKVFTA kicked in, while the figures with Mexico and Canada, two markets with which Vietnam did not have a shared trade deal before the CPTPP, also witnessed double-digit growth last year.
After one year since the EVFTA came into effect, Vietnam's export turnover to the EU market reached US$39.75 billion as of August 1, 2021, up 6.2% against the same period In 2020.
In return, the total import volume of goods from EU markets into Vietnam reached $16.51 billion, up 24% year on year.
“Assuming Vietnam keeps the current pace of trading growth, the turnover could set a new record and exceed the $700-billion mark in 2022,” Trang said.
Director-General of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department under the MoIT Luong Hoang Thai expected the RCEP which became effective in early 2022 would be one of the key driving forces for Vietnamese businesses to recover and thrive in the post-pandemic period.
Thai added Vietnam’s exports performance continues to rely on global GDP growth, referring to a recent study that in case the world’s GDP expands by one percentage point, Vietnam’s exports would grow by 5%.
“If major economies post an average growth of 4% in 2022, Vietnam’s exports may easily reach a growth rate of 16-20%,” he added.
Positive outlook in 2022
A recent report from the MoIT suggested a positive outlook for Vietnam’s exports in 2022 thanks to growing global demands.
“The fact that countries around the world are pushing for the administration of vaccine boosters and reopening the economies would lead to higher demand for Vietnam’s key export products such as textile, footwear, wooden, and electronics products,” noted the ministry.
Meanwhile, many economies continue to carry out stimulus programs, including direct financial support for the public, for which the MoIT said is a major boost for consumer goods produced in Vietnam.
The MoIT, however, acknowledged concerns about global trade, especially from uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, rising protectionism, trade tension, and anti-globalization movement, that are set to persist in years to come.
“The pandemic would continue to stay even beyond 2022 and exert major impacts on Vietnam’s socio-economic activities. The most important task at the moment is to adapt to the pandemic safely and flexibly, to avoid possible disruption to economic activities,” it concluded.
Hanoi's export turnover up
Despite severe Covid-19 impacts, export remained a highlight of Hanoi’s economy in 2021 with a turnover of $16 billion, up 0.9% year-on-year.
In 2022, the local Department of Industry and Trade aims to realize the export growth target of 5% by pushing for the city’s 2021-2025 global integration plan, including steps to effectively utilize new generation FTA such as the CPTPP and EVFTA.
Under the plan, Hanoi would focus on enhancing local businesses’ competitiveness for greater adaptation to a new context; promoting IT application for ongoing administrative reform efforts; attracting investment for the development of trade infrastructure systems.