Here’s a key point from South Korea’s March trade data that showed exports fell for a 15th consecutive month: Vietnam is becoming an increasingly important export market.
Shipments to Vietnam rose 13.5 percent in March from a year earlier, the biggest gain among countries; sales to the European Union rose 12.7 percent, while those to China fell 12.2 percent and exports to the U.S. dropped 3.8 percent.
Overall, South Korean exports fell 8.2 percent in March, a less sharp decline than the 10.9 percent drop forecast by economists.
Vietnam beat out Hong Kong so far this year to become Korea’s third-biggest export market, following China and the U.S., data by the Korea International Trade Association show.
Shipments to Vietnam were supported by a steady increase in income and consumption in the nation, along with exports of smartphone components to the Vietnamese units of Korean companies. With solid economic growth and new transportation systems like Uber emerging in Vietnam, demand for cars also is rising, according to Korea’s trade ministry.
Vietnam’s economy is forecast to expand by 6.5 percent this year -- the same growth rate as for China, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.