Vietnam’s imports from China increased 12.9% year-on-year to $49.3 billion, accounting for 28.8% of the country’s total import turnover.
On breaking down, imports of machinery, equipment and components from that market increased 15.6% year-on-year, phones and accessories up 11.5%, electronics, computers and accessories 15.2%.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s exports to China expanded 13.7% year-on-year to $17 billion. Of the staples, exports of veggies and fruits went up 179%, apparels 41.5%, and footwear 48%.
As a result, the country posted a trade gap of $32.3 billion with China in 2015, rising 12.5% year-on-year. This situation has persisted since 2001.
Le Thi Minh Thuy, head of the Trade and Service Department under the GSO, said at a press meeting on December 26 that the trade gap with China was widening because Vietnam relies heavily on import of materials from the neighboring country, with some sectors importing up to 90% of their raw materials from China.
China is taking advantage of the ASEAN-China trade accord to penetrate into ASEAN countries, the official added.
Vietnam’s trade shortfall with China has been lingering on and the country’s economic reliance on China has stirred concerns among economists and lawmakers.
The Vietnam Institute of Economics cited China’s statistics agency as saying that Vietnam’s trade gap with China could rise to $43.8 billion in 2014. The difference in statistics can be attributed to smuggling into Vietnam, some economists have said.
Vietnam has raked in $162.4 billion from shipping goods in 2015, up 8.1% year-on-year, while spending $165.6 billion on imports, up 12%, resulting in a trade gap of $3.2 billion.
The fall in the country’s export turnover in the year has been driven by: (i) decreases in prices of many export staples such as crude oil, rubber, rubber product, coal, rice, coffee, vegetables, seafood, and (ii) falls in export volume of farm produce such as coffee, pepper and tea, the General Statistics Office (GSO) has said in a report.