Vietnam Jan-May trade gap surged to $5.37 bln: paper

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Vietnam's trade deficit in the first five months of this year would surge nearly five-fold to an estimated US$5.37 billion, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

Exports between January and May jumped 12.6 percent from a year ago to $25.83 billion, while imports surged 29.8 percent to $31.2 billion, the Industry and Trade Ministry-run Cong Thuong newspaper reported on its website www.baocongthuong.com.vn.

Vietnam had a trade gap of $1.1 billion in the first five months of 2009.

The trade gap in May stood at an estimated $750 million, the lowest monthly figure so far this year, with exports up 37.5 percent from a year ago to $6.1 billion and imports increasing 19 percent to $6.85 billion, it said, citing the ministry's data.

Industrial products, such as steel, chemicals, electric cables, rubber products, computers and textiles showed the highest export growth at 11.6 percent, the report said.

"This is an encouraging sign and is the basis to forecast exports this year will post a relatively good growth and offset the fall in export revenues of fuel, minerals and gold," it said.

The report also said export performance in the coming months, could be affected by higher coal and electricity prices, a shortage of labor, and businesses facing limited access to funds due to high bank lending rates since the start of the year.

On the other hand, the import of controlled items such as gemstones, precious metals and spare parts for motorcycles and cars jumped 64.8 percent, it said.

The government is expected to release full export and import data later this month.

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