Vietnam's trade deficit in May is estimated at $1.7 billion, the highest level since January 2010, taking the deficit so far this year to $6.59 billion, according to the General Statistics Office.
The deficit, which has been rising every month this year, was up 17.3 percent year on year in May.
In May imports rose 3.02 percent month on month and 28 percent year on year to $9.2 billion.
The major import items in May were oil and gas ($934 million), iron and steel ($642 million), fabric ($750 million), and animal feed and materials ($160 million).
Imports of luxury goods like automobiles, motorbikes, and electronics were all slightly up at $292 million, $80 million, and $500 million.
Exports were up 0.85 percent from the previous month and 18.74 percent year on year to $7.5 billion.
Apparel exports were up 11.9 percent at $1.19 billion, seafood fetched $520 million, a 12.3 percent rise, and rice exports were worth $317 million, down 14.3 percent.
So far this year imports have been worth $41.3 billion, a 29.7 percent rise, with domestic firms accounting for $23.7 billion.
It included $5.75 billion worth machinery and equipment, $4.53 billion worth oil, $2.86 worth steel, $2.85 billion worth fabric, and $2.3 billion worth electronics.
Total exports this year have topped $34.7 billion, 32.8 percent up year on year, with foreign firms accounting for more than half.
Key items included apparel, seafood, crude oil, coffee, and rice.
Rubber exports were up 113 percent at $1.52 billion; coffee was 121.7 percent up at $1.77 billion; crude oil was up 37 percent at $2.98 billion for; textiles were up 35.6 percent to $5.1 billion; and footwear was up 31.8 percent at $2.37 billion.
The state sector saw year-on-year growth of 31 percent to $15 billion while the foreign sector’s exports were up 34.2 percent to $19.01 billion.
The government devalued the dong for the 4th time in 15 months on February 11 to help curb the trade gap which was eroding its foreign-currency holdings.
The deficit and size of reserves were about the same as at end-2010, raising the specter of a hard-currency shortage causing a financial crisis, the Heritage Foundation in Washington said May 23.
“Watch out for the trade deficit,” Tai Hui, the Singapore-based head of Southeast Asian research at Standard Chartered Plc, warned in a note.
It “deserves close monitoring in case it gains further momentum in the months ahead,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.