Friday, 24 April 2009

Vietnam says four-month trade surplus at $800 mln

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam on Friday estimated it had recorded a trade surplus of 800 million dollars for the first four months of the year as imports dived due to lower demand amid the global downturn.

The figure compares with a record 11.1 billion dollar deficit for the same period last year before the financial crisis fully struck.

The country spent 17.84 billion dollars on imports between January and April, down by 41 percent year-on-year, while exports were almost steady at 18.64 billion dollars, said the General Statistics Office (GSO).

However, the four-month figure is down from the 1.5 billion dollar surplus recorded in the first quarter of 2009.

Vietnam last year posted a record trade deficit of 18 billion dollars, the GSO has said.

GSO figures showed a 27.3 percent year-on-year drop in spending on machinery and production equipment imports in the first four months, while spending on petroleum products was down by 57.3 percent.

Earnings from the sale of crude decreased 44.7 percent year-on-year, but garments and textile shipments rose by 1.8 percent, it said.

A large portion of Vietnam's earnings in the period came from the export of gold, which made 2.5 billion dollars, more than 40 times the amount during the same period last year, the GSO estimated.

Large quantities of gold were imported during last year's soaring inflation, "and now there is so much gold that gold is flowing out," the World Bank's acting country director, Martin Rama, has said.

GSO added that preliminary figures for Vietnam's industrial production during the period showed an increase of 3.3 percent to about 11.6 billion dollars.

Production from the state sector was almost steady while both the non-state and foreign-invested sectors showed an increase, it said.

Last year, Vietnam's economy expanded by 6.18 percent, its lowest level in almost a decade.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said this month that the economy will pick up and could achieve between five and 5.5 percent growth this year. First-quarter growth was 3.1 percent, the lowest on record.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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