Vietnam’s competitiveness with regional peers has been put to question as the country’s trade deficit
with ASEAN persists and keeps widening over the past few years.
The country logged a trade gap of $4.5 billion with the 10-country bloc in the first nine months of this year, larger than a deficit of $4.1 billion in the same period of last year, according to statistics of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
Vietnam earned $12.2 billion from shipping goods to the 10 fellow countries while spending $16.7 billion on imports from them in the nine-month period.
In the bloc, Thailand has remained Vietnam’s largest import market and is gaining an increasing trade surplus with Vietnam.
Between January and September, Vietnam spent $729 million on importing computers and electronic devices, $589.6 million on machinery, and $440 million on completely-built unit automobiles from Thailand.
Notably, veggie imports from the neighboring country soared 76.4% year-on-year to $289.6 million.
Vietnam has been posting trade gaps with the 10-nation bloc since 2004 and this situation will likely persist.
The country has gradually removed import tariffs on goods from the Southeast Asian countries following the enforcement of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in December 2015.
According to economists, the lingering trade deficit with ASEAN indicates Vietnam’s economic weaknesses.
“The trade gap with ASEAN is not too bad if compared with China. However, in a playing field for equal economies, this big gap shows that we are too weak,” economist Ngo Tri Long told the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper.