Vietnam spends around US$1 billion to import new cars of less than nine seats every year and the imports need to be cut, Industry and Trade Minister Hoang Trung Hai said Monday.
"Most of Vietnamese people do not use cars"¦ so it's necessary to restrict car imports as infrastructure is not well-developed and traffic congestion continues to worsen," Hai said at a meeting with trade officials.
He made the statement in response to recent complaints about a new import rule, which stipulates that all importers of cars of less than nine seats have to show proof that they are authorized dealers for the foreign carmakers. The documents have to be notarized by Vietnamese diplomatic representatives in the country of origin.
Many importers have protested the rule, which will take effect June 26, saying they will have to shut down business because they will not be able to submit the required documents.
Hai defended the new rule, saying it will help curb trade deficit and protect local consumers.
The government will continue to introduce similar trade regulations to narrow the country's trade gap, he said.
Vietnam's trade deficit widened to US$1.7 billion in May from $1.49 billion in April. The government aims to keep the annual trade deficit below 16 percent of the country's exports in 2011, but the trade ministry has admitted that this might be a tough target to achieve.