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Vietnam’s Economic Changes Four Months after WTO Accession
28 | 06 | 2007
Mr. Vu Khoan, Former Deputy Prime Minister, Special Envoy of Vietnam Government, said it is too soon to accurately assess the impact of Vietnam’s WTO commitments, after only 4 months of full membership. Vietnam’s economy improved, but not in all areas, since its WTO entrance.
Hasn’t WTO accession increased imports?

According to Ministry of Trade data, the country reached US$14.5 billion in exports over past four months, an increase of 22 per cent from the same period last year, fulfilling 31 per cent of the annual plan. At the meeting reviewing export and import in the first four months this year in Hanoi May 7th, the Ministry of Trade said exports in the period had not fully met the potential and opportunities of Vietnam’s WTO accession. In major export commodities, there is not a product with high enough export value and to compensate for shortages in the event crude oil price or export decreases. Notably, on the export commodity list the “new goods” group reached nearly US$3 billion in the first four months, increasing 51 per cent from the same period last year.

 
Meanwhile, import turnover in the first quarter 2007 hit US$11.79 billion, rising 33.6 per cent from the same period last year. With that import rate, imports exceeded exports in the first quarter 2007 by US$1.316 billion, 12.5 per cent of total of export turnover in the first quarter 2007.
 
In the short time since Vietnam’s WTO entrance, imports increased 50 per cent while exports rose 18 per cent. The Ministry of Trade explained the strong import increase was caused by rising import value compared to the same period last year, US$889 million (made up 30 per cent) out of US$2.97 billion came from mechanical equipment import, in which the largest single amount was for 3 planes valued at US$306 million.
 
In addition, input materials also increased remarkably: rough steel increased 23.8 per cent, steel products 24.4 per cent, petroleum 3 per cent and plastic material 17.6 per cent.   Import turnover hit US$200 million in only the first two months.
It is noteworthy that most commodities will not have major tax cuts under WTO commitments. Another reason is that Lunar New Year came later than as usual; affecting major export goods in the first months Vietnam entered WTO. The Ministry of Trade said excess of imports over exports in 2007 would be adjusted in scale of US$5.2 billion, equal to 11.12 per cent of import turnover and decrease 1.58 per cent compared with last year.
 
Investment: redundant large projects

Many experts say there are positive indications for continuing FDI capital flow into Vietnam. FDI capital in four months reached US$3.513 billion, up 54.7 per cent from the same period last year to a record number.

 
In addition, a wide variety of giant projects with total capital more than US$35 billion are waiting for license. In early May, 2007 Vietnam welcomed quite a lot of investor groups seeking to invest in Vietnam, including 18 leading US corporations with initial capital of US$1 billion, a symbolic example of Vietnam’s attraction.
 
The Deputy Minister of Trade also said that at present Vietnam was considered a “shining star” in Asia. If Vietnam takes full advantage of WTO accession, FDI capital into Vietnam will surpass the US$12 billion estimate, and the country can obtain US$100 billion import turnover by 2010.


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