Vietnam's exports overtake Shenzhen, China for the first time: Vietnam's economy has gradually recovered from the coronavirus epidemic

According to the latest data released by the Vietnam General Administration of Customs, Vietnam's total imports and exports hit a record $67.37 billion, up 38.1% month-on-month; the value of exports amounted to 34.71 billion US dollars, an increase of 48.2% compared to the previous month. In terms of the entire first quarter, Vietnam's total imports and exports of goods in the first quarter amounted to US$176.35 billion, up 14.4% year on year.


In addition, the "Made in Vietnam" category is also constantly rising. In the first quarter of this year, Vietnamese exports of mobile phones and their parts reached almost 15 billion US dollars. Viet Nam's rapid growth in exports of electronic products has caused some concern in China.


However, Chen Jing, vice president of the Society for Science, Technology and Strategy of the University of Science and Technology of China, said that in terms of electronic products, Vietnam is mainly an assembly base rather than a manufacturing base. This is reflected in the trading data. Although the volume of trade is large, industrial value added is very low, and the main profit is still in the hands of foreign producers.


With the increase in vaccination rates and the normalization of the epidemic, Vietnam's economy has stabilized and recovered since the fourth quarter of last year. This year, the export industry will remain the main driver of Vietnam's economic growth.


In the electronics industry, in addition to international brands such as Samsung, Intel and LG, which have already established themselves in Vietnam, more and more electronics manufacturers such as Luxshare Precision, Winston and Shuo are coming to Vietnam after the epidemic.


In the first quarter of 2022, Vietnam's exports of mobile phones and components, electronic products, computers and components exceeded US$27.3 billion, close to the level of exports in the first half of last year (US$57.54 billion for the full year).


Andrew Jeffries, chief representative of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Vietnam, said that against the backdrop of the pandemic and global geopolitical instability, global investment flows have declined, but foreign investment inflows to Vietnam are likely to grow against the trend.


According to Vietnamese media reports, in early April, Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Group and Japan's ORIX Group, through their local Vietnamese partner Wanshengfa Group, met with Ban Wenmai, the mayor of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to discuss investment in Ho Chi Minh City.


The same labour-intensive textile industry also performed well. This year, the production and operation activities of Vietnamese garment enterprises continued to maintain high growth rates. The chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Garment Association said that in the first two months of this year, Vietnam exported nearly US$8.2 billion worth of textiles and clothing, up 59% from last year. The industry is expected to export about $12.7 billion in the first quarter of this year.


The chairman of the Ho Chi Minh Clothing, Textile, Embroidery and Knitting Manufacturers Association said that many textile and clothing companies have received enough orders to produce until the middle of this year or even until September. For example, a successful Vietnamese textile and clothing company said that it was enough to wait until the end of the third quarter for an order.


Vietnamese timber industry companies have also received a large number of orders, and they are said to be out of business by the third quarter or even the end of the year. Vietnam is one of the world's largest exporters of wood products.


Standard Chartered Bank economist Tim Lilahaphan said that in recent years, many large international technology companies have relocated or planned to relocate manufacturing activities to Vietnam to diversify their supply chains. Vietnam continues to be a regional manufacturing hub in areas such as electronics, textiles and footwear.


In the face of Vietnam's explosive growth, some netizens compared Vietnam's export data with Shenzhen's and found that Vietnam's export volume in March significantly exceeded that of Shenzhen. This finding surprised these netizens.


The figure is indeed true - according to data released by the General Administration of Customs of Vietnam, Vietnam's exports in March amounted to 34.71 billion US dollars (about 227.2 billion yuan), an increase of 14.8% year on year; and Shenzhen Customs data show that in March, Shenzhen's export trade volume was about 120 billion yuan, down 14% from last year.


The restructuring of the international production chain began to emerge over a decade ago. Due to low labor costs and a relatively "robust" manufacturing system, Vietnam has taken over the production of some industries, the most prominent of which are the textile industry and the electronic assembly industry.


Over the past ten years, Vietnam's development has not affected China's employment, and China's exports and foreign trade are still growing rapidly. On the contrary, the restructuring of the production chain has contributed to the development of trade relations between China and Vietnam. Vietnam imports a large amount of raw materials or components from China for assembly and export.


China-Vietnam bilateral trade will exceed US$200 billion for the first time in 2021 to reach US$230.2 billion, up 19.7% in US dollars and 12% in yuan, according to China Customs statistics. China's surplus in Vietnam is about US$45 billion.


China remains Vietnam's largest trading partner and second largest export market, and Vietnam also remains China's largest trading partner in ASEAN.


Chen Jing said that Vietnam's foreign trade is still in assembly and export mode, the added value is very low, the cost is still in the hands of foreign manufacturers, and the strength of local enterprises is weak.

Efforts to "add a group" to boost motivation


Regarding the growth trend of this year's exports, Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of the Import and Export Bureau of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, recently said that the biggest opportunity for Vietnam's exports lies in various free trade agreements. Vietnam's export growth target for this year is between 6% and 8%, and the effective use of the free trade agreement is the biggest driving force to achieve the above target.


In order to develop foreign trade, Viet Nam has made great efforts in recent years to "unify the groups." Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007, it has signed free trade agreements with many countries around the world, becoming one of the countries that have signed the largest number of free trade agreements among the countries of the region.


In recent years, one after another, large-scale free trade agreements in which Vietnam has participated, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), and the Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the UK (UKVFTA), and most recently the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


Thanks to Vietnam's free trade agreements with the European Union and the United Kingdom, various industries represented by Vietnam's clothing industry are expected to step up their efforts to enter the European market this year. However, Vietnam's local garment industry is also facing high transportation costs, and at the same time, companies are facing labor shortages and labor disputes.


The current COVID-19 epidemic in Vietnam is still serious, but the severity level is not high. On April 26, Vietnam reported 8,431 new locally confirmed cases and 8 new deaths. Worker discontent in Vietnam has grown this year. Their main demands are insufficient wages, long overtime, infrequent nucleic acid testing, and no isolation of new corona-positive employees. The outside world is concerned that this will make Vietnam's labor supply unstable.


However, most economists still believe that the economic recovery in the second quarter of 2022 is likely to be stronger as Vietnam's domestic demand picks up and tourism recovers. The Asian Development Bank predicts that Vietnam's economic growth rate in 2022 will be around 6.5%. Despite the impact of the new corona epidemic outbreak, Vietnam's GDP growth rate in 2020 is still at 2.91%; in 2021, Vietnam was hit hard by the mid-year delta and annual GDP was still increasing. by 2.58%.


Not only is foreign trade and manufacturing flourishing, but Vietnam's domestic tourism is also gradually gaining momentum. Public holidays such as Labor Day began in Vietnam this coming weekend, and many plane and train tickets to tourist destinations were nearly sold out. The number of passengers traveling by air during the long weekend will increase by 25-30% compared to the normal period and by about 90-95% compared to the same period last year, said Din Wang Tang, director of China's Civil Aviation Administration. Vietnam.


Vietnam announced on March 15 that it would reopen its borders to foreign tourists from that day on and fully resume international tourism activities. Tourism is also vital to Vietnam's economy. In 2019, before the pandemic, tourism accounted for 9.2% of Vietnam's gross domestic product (GDP), hosting over 18 million foreign tourists throughout the year. Starting this year, the Vietnamese government hopes to promote a speedy recovery of the tourism industry to make up for the losses of the past two years.