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Vietnam-US trade outlook 2018: challenges and opportunities

Vietnam-US trade outlook 2018: challenges and opportunities

VietNamNet Bridge – With protectionism pursued by the Trump administration, Vietnam’s exports, especially seafood and steel, to the US will face challenges in the time to come.


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With CPTPP, Vietnam will have larger markets



Vietnam exports more than imports

The US has been one of the biggest trade partners of Vietnam, which has always enjoyed a trade surplus with the US. 

Vietnam exported $41.6 billion worth of products to the US in 2017, which accounted for 20 percent of Vietnam’s total export turnover. 

According to the General Customs Department (GDC), Vietnam exported $41.6 billion worth of products to the US in 2017, which accounted for 20 percent of Vietnam’s total export turnover. 

It imported $9.2 billion worth of products from the market. As such, the US was the biggest market that Vietnam had a trade surplus with in 2017, roughly $32.4 billion.

In 2000-2017, Vietnam-US trade made a big leap with the growth rate of 40 times. During these years, the exports grew by 28 percent per annum from $732 million in 2000 to $41.6 billion in 2017. 

In 2002, exports soared by 127.3 percent, in 2003 by 62.7 percent, and in 2006 by 32 percent. 

According to UNComtrade, the US total import turnover in 2016 was $2.45 trillion, of which imports from Vietnam accounted for 1.9 percent and Vietnam ranked 12th among the biggest exporters to the US market.

The US is the biggest importer of Vietnam’s textiles and garments as well as footwear products. In 2017, Vietnam exported $12.28 billion worth of garments to the US, or 47 percent of total garment exports, and $5.11 billion worth of footwear products.

Vietnam is also a big exporter of agriculture, forestry and seafood products, earning $1.22 billion from cashew nuts, $1.4 billion from seafood, and $3.27 billion from wooden furniture exports.

What will happen?

From January 1, 2018, seafood products to be exported to the US will be put under control of SIMP (Seafood Import Monitoring Program) designed for 13 aquatic species, including tuna, Vietnam’s key export item.

The US is now the third largest single tuna export market for Vietnam, consuming 17 percent of Vietnam’s exports.

As for seafood, the US has been applying an inspection program on Vietnam’s tra (catfish) exports since September 2017. The program sets very strict requirements which are far higher than standards applied all over the globe.

Vietnam’s shrimp exports now bear an anti-dumping duty of 4.8 percent, much higher than tax rates on imports from other sources.

Three Of Vietnam’s major seafood export items in 2017 were shrimp (17 percent of export turnover), catfish (19.3 percent) and tuna (23 percent).

As for textiles & garments, the product with highest export turnover, the US withdrawal from TPP has disappointed Vietnamese enterprises. However, the export of these products still gained satisfactory growth in 2017.

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