Vietnam moved past Chile, Colombia, the Philippines and Spain in 2007 to reach the list of the top 30 exporters to the US, driven by stronger sales of clothing, furniture, electrical equipment and coffee. Vietnam’s shipments to the US, its top market, climbed 25% last year to US$10.54 billion, according to figures released on the US International Trade Commission’s Website. Exports to the US increased 30% in 2006 and 26% in the previous year.
The level of Vietnamese sales to the US is now more than 10 times the figure in 2001, when a tariff-cutting trade pact between the two nations came into effect. The Southeast Asian nation’s move up the charts may not yet be finished, as last year’s growth was achieved even as a stronger currency toward the end of 2007 made its exports less competitive.
“I see nothing in the way of Vietnam continuing to climb up that list,” said Adam Sitkoff, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam in Hanoi. “Vietnam is a very competitive place to manufacture a wide variety of products, so export growth to the US isn’t just tied to one sector.”
Shipments of apparel jumped 36% to US$4.29 billion, as Vietnam took advantage of the end of US quotas after its January 2007 accession to the World Trade Organisation.
Further growth in apparel exports is limited by issues including a “lack of deepwater ports and other transport infrastructure and electric power, and growing labour issues, such as shortages of workers, sharply increasing labour costs, and illegal strikes,” the American Chamber of Commerce in HCM City said, in an e-mail sent to members today.
Furniture shipments also climbed 36%, reaching US$1.23 billion, to push the product past shoes as Vietnam’s second-biggest export to the US Footwear exports advanced 8% to US$1.03 billion.
Seafood shipments to the US gained 6% to US$692 million, while exports of electrical machinery and equipment jumped 67% to US$350 million. Exports of coffee to the US from the world’s second-biggest producer increased 52% to US$307 million.
During Vietnam’s crop year ended September 30, 2007, “there was a detectable rush by farmers to sell most of their coffee to take advantage of the high price,” Fortis Bank SA/NV and VM Group said in a report last month on agricultural commodities.
Crude oil exports to the US fell 18% to US$446 million, as state-owned Vietnam Oil & Gas Corp.’s output slipped for a third straight year.
“Vietnam could see a temporary production surge” this year for crude oil, as new fields are brought on-line, the International Energy Agency said in a February 13 report.
US exports to Vietnam surged 84% in 2007 to US$1.82 billion, paced by a more than six-fold jump in car shipments to US$217 million. The US trade deficit with Vietnam widened 17% in 2007 to US$8.72 billion.
By Jason Folkmanis