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Vietnam’s export turnover reached USD 16.7 billion in 2002, an increase of 11% from 2001. (See table below)

Main exports of 2002: Comparison 2002/2001
(value in USD thousand)
Fisheries   2,022,821
Rice   725,535
Coffee   322,310
Vegetables   201,156
Rubber   267,832
Crude oil   3,270,491
Coal   155,947
Garments and textiles   2,751,572

Source: MoT, General Department of Customs
Table B.1 – Main Exports of 2002 – Comparison 2002/2001

Exports have increased in crude oil, textile and garments, fishery products, rice, rubber, coal (accounting for 55% of total export turnover).

Export prices of major commodities, such as rice, coffee, rubber, cashew nuts, tea, crude oil, garment and textile, handicrafts rose in the second half of 2002. Crude oil export price, in October 2002, alone went up 39.5% or USD 57 per ton. As a result, exports rose by 11% in value in comparison with 2001.

Exports of other key products increased in volume compared to a year earlier. Vietnam non-oil exports went up 13.26% in 2002. Volume of exports of key commodities, including tea, groundnuts, rubber, cashew nuts, black pepper, coke, footwear, textile and garment, handicrafts, have gone up by 9.5%.

Some major exports:

Vietnam’s rice exports were 3,240,392 tons valued at USD 725 million in 2002, up 16% in value from 2001.

Seafood export turnover was USD 2.02 billion in 2002. China increased significantly its imports from Vietnam and, at the end of the year, the EU relaxed its exhaustive border controls on antibiotic content following an improvement in Vietnam’s record. The major markets were United States, Japan, Taiwan, China and EU.

Exports of rubber increased in volume 61% in 2002. The main markets were: Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia and EU. Pepper exports also increased by 17.5% and crude oil was again the major export item with USD 3.27 billion, a 30% increase.

In 2002 exports of garments and textiles reached USD 2.77 billion, an increase of 39%.

These increases in exports are due to a gradual change in the structure of the imports, and rises in sales of higher value products.


Imports increased overall by 22%. The biggest increases were in steel and iron products 38.4%; machinery, equipment and instrument 38.4%; chemical material 33.5%; plastics 24.6% and spare parts 24%.

In general, import value rose by 22% last year. Major imports were fertilisers, petroleum products, motorcycles parts, components and paper. Their share of total imports is about 66% in value, down 2.2% from the previous year. Other products amount to 34% share of total imports, up 2.2% in value. Of these, raw materials, fuel, components, machinery, equipment and instruments represented 97.7%, down 0.3%; consumer goods (except automobiles and motorbikes) 2.3%, up 0.3%.

Source: Intellasia
Figure B.1 – 12 month deficit Figure
B.2 – 12 month exports
Forecast of trade situation for 2003


Total export value for whole year of 2003 is predicted by Intellasia to be USD 18.5bn., increasing 11% as compared to 2002. Products increasing revenues will include handicrafts, tea and rubber with an increase of about 30%, electronic goods by 22%, textiles and garments with 16%, seafood and aquaculture by 14%, and footwear with about 13%.

The main markets will be the United States, the EU and ASEAN.

Source: General Department of Customs
Figure B.3 - Vietnam’s exports 2002


Imports will continue to rise for completed cars, spare parts, semi finished steel products, clinker, fertilizers, paper, chemicals, fibres, machinery, equipment and instruments, pharmaceuticals and fabrics.

Markets with strong growth will be EU, ASEAN, Ukraine, Russia, Switzerland, India.

Source: General Department of Customs
Figure B.4 – Vietnam’s Imports 2002

Trade with Europe

According to Vietnamese customs, EU is the destination of 20% of Vietnam’s exports in value and is the largest importer of Vietnamese products.

From 1997 to 2002 Vietnam established additional tariff and non-tariff barriers. As a result EU’s trade deficit with Vietnam swelled from EUR 139m in 1996 to EUR 2.6bn. in 2002.4

Table B.2 - EU-Vietnam Balance of Trade 1995-2002

EU Imports
EU Exports
1995 1,150,639.63 750,082.25 -400,557.38
1996 1,435,382.55 1,296,490.64 -138,891.91
1997 2,246,317.51 1,158,140.34 -1,088,177.17
1998 2,612,567.53 1,062,429.96 -1,550,137.57
1999 3,155,121.15 1,051,759.75 -2,103,361.40
2000 3,964,012.41 1,227,616.49 -2,736,395.92
2001 4,379,120.51 1,757,780.27 -2,621,340.24
2002 4,398,467.62 1,802,255.84 -2,596,211.78

  EU Imports growth EU Exports growth
1996 24.75% 72.85%
1997 56.50% -10.67%
1998 16.30% -8.26%
1999 20.77% -1.00%
2000 25.64% 16.72%
2001 10.47% 43.19%
2002 0.44% 2.53%

Table B.3 – EU imports and exports growth

Figure B.5 – EU-Vietnam Trade 1995-2002 Source: Eurostat

EU main imports from Vietnam by value are footwear (45.4%), textiles and clothing (15%), furniture (5.9%) and coffee and tea (4.9%). United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands are the main EU importers of Vietnamese footwear. About 80% of footwear exports are in franchised production for foreign brand names.

EU-Vietnam trade by merchandise 2002

EU Exports to Vietnam

Ch Description Value % Acc%
84 Machinery and mechanical appliances 561,309.74 31.14% 31.14%
85 Electrical equipment 289,089.47 16.04% 47.19%
30 Pharmaceutical products 125,704.05 6.97% 54.16%
90 Optical, measuring, medical or surgical instruments 80,317.68 4.46% 58.62%
39 Plastic products 48,218.76 2.68% 61.29%
88 Aircraft, spacecraft 46,668.02 2.59% 63.88%
87 Vehicles 45,341.15 2.52% 66.40%
73 Articles of iron or steel 73 42,974.35 2.38% 68.78%
38 Other chemical products 42,506.29 2.36% 71.14%
32 Tanning or dyeing 38,521.34 2.14% 73.28%
  TOTAL 1,802,255.84 Var 2.53%

Ch = Chapter - Acc.% = Accumulative Percentage
Table B.4 – EU Exports to Vietnam Source: Eurostat

EU Imports from Vietnam

Ch Description Value % Acc%
64 Footwear 1,997,909.72 45.42% 45.42%
62 Apparel, knitted 542,110.80 12.32% 57.75%
94 Furniture 259,158.48 5.89% 63.64%
09 Coffee and Tea 213,240.12 4.85% 68.49%
42 Leather products 179,268.37 4.08% 72.56%
61 Textiles 110,550.96 2.51% 75.08%
69 Ceramic products 108,295.49 2.46% 77.54%
87 Vehicles 87,782.18 2.00% 79.53%
85 Electrical equipment 87,262.48 1.98% 81.52%
71 Pearls, precious stones & metals 72,961.12 1.66% 83.18%
  TOTAL 4,398,467.62 Var 0.44%

Ch = Chapter - Acc.% = Accumulative Percentage
Table B.5 – EU Imports from Vietnam Source: Eurostat

Garments and textile exports from Vietnam to the EU are subject to import quotas. The 1992 Textile Agreement, re-negotiated in 1997 and 2000 with an increase in the allocation of quotas to Vietnam and a reduction in the number of product categories subject to quotas, is in force until the end of 2003. While the existing quotas fall short of the local industry’s potential, it seems difficult to justify an increase in light of the important restrictions EU textiles (and many other sectors) faced when exporting to Vietnam, leading to the current EUR 2.6bn. trade deficit. Vietnam’s Textile and garment direct exports to EU in 2002 reached EUR 560 million. In a move to promote competition and encourage productivity in the textile and garment sector, quotas for EU will be automatically granted to qualified Vietnamese exporters, as from 2002. Negotiations to increase garments and textile quotas took place during 2002 in Brussels and Hanoi in the framework of a wider agreement including some additional market access in different sectors granted to EU operators. An agreement was reached in February 2003 notably including a clause of non-discrimination.

Coffee and tea, furniture, leather and ceramic products close the list of main EU imports. Fisheries, another promising industry, has under performed in its exports to the EU market due to shipments contaminated with antibiotics, which triggered compulsory exhaustive inspection for all shipments to the Union. Vietnam is included in the EU list 1, with 61 local companies licensed to export directly to the EU. At the end of 2002 Vietnam was released from systematic inspections into the normal procedure of sampling.

In 2002, European exports to Vietnam increased by 18% by value. The main EU exports continued to be machinery (around 17.6%) and electrical equipment (16%). Aircraft exports and pharmaceutical products ranked after the above-entioned goods.

AFTA - The Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) calls for an average import tariff in Vietnam of 0 to 5% by 2006 . This agreement has the highest potential to influence the economic development of Vietnam in the short term, since it opens regional as well as internal markets to some of Vietnam’s main export competitors. Furthermore, the recently (5 November 2001) signed free trade area agreement between ASEAN and China to be implemented within 10 years adds further pressure for reform of Vietnam’s economic structure.

WTO - Vietnam presented in December 2001 the initial offer on tariffs and services for accession to the World Trade Organisation. Negotiations took place in April 2002 in Geneva in the 5th session of the Working Party. The 6th Working Party took place in May 2003. Non-membership of the WTO prevents Vietnam from profiting from access to markets on most beneficial terms, and from having recourse to the dispute and settlement mechanism and -in particular- from defending its interests during the current round of negotiations, the Doha Development Agenda. Countries outside the WTO are also likely to lose FDI, since international investors favour countries with a common framework agreement on trade and investment. The recent Chinese and Taiwanese accession leaves Vietnam on a precarious situation unless it joins WTO soon.

USBTA – The implementation of US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) improved opportunities for US investors in Vietnam. However, more than one year after entry into force of BTA, investment inflows from the US remain weak.

However, BTA implementation has significantly improved exports, including those of foreign invested firms. At present, production of foreign invested sector accounts for a rather large proportion of total export to the US market in products such as fibre with 74%, cloth 50%, garments and textiles 42% and footwear 35%.

In 2002, 34 US investment projects worth USD139.7 million were licensed, ranking fourth of 74 countries investing in Vietnam (after South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong). Almost all projects were licensed before BTA’s signature in July 2000 and concentrated on goods for export to the US market such as garments and textiles, wooden products, fine arts and handicrafts and processed agricultural products.

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