Vietnam posted a trade deficit in March, the second time it has done so in the first quarter, and an official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade says it is a sign that local firms have reversed production cuts.
Tuoi Tre on Tuesday quoted Nguyen Thanh Hoa, deputy head of the Department of Planning, as saying the deficit of US$300 million last month means firms have been importing large shipments of raw materials for production.
Imports in March reached $11.3 billion, up 56 percent from February and 22 percent higher year-on-year. Exports during the same period increased by 54 percent to $11 billion.
Inventory growth slowed to 16.5 percent from January to February, as against 19.9 percent for the same period in 2012.
Last year, the country enjoyed a trade surplus for the first time since 1992 and economists attributed it to enterprises downsizing operations. Official data showed that a total of 55,000 companies closed or shut down permanently last year amidst the economic downturn.
Overall, exports exceeded imports by $481 million in the first quarter this year.
First quarter imports of $29.2 billion were dominated by shipments of spare parts needed for industrial production, according to the General Statistics Office.
Exports stood at $29.7 billion for the same period, with shipments of phones, computers, cars and motorbikes, and their spare parts dominating.
Foreign-invested firms accounted for 65 percent of total exports, and the state sector for most of the remaining 35 percent.
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