Vietnam Nov trade gap less than expected, coffee, crude oil up

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Vietnam's trade deficit was US$567 million in November, sharply lower than an initial estimate of $700 million, following price increases for key export items such as crude oil, rice, and coffee, the customs department said on Tuesday.

Exports in November exports were revised up to $8.85 billion from an earlier estimate of $8.6 billion, while imports were raised to $9.42 billion, from $9.3 billion earlier, according to a report from the Finance Ministry-run customs department.

The monthly figures brought export revenue between January and November to $87.36 billion, up 35 percent from the same period a year earlier and beating the revenue target for the whole of 2011 by 10 percent, the customs report said.

Imports in the first 11 months rose 26.5 percent from a year ago to $96.17 billion, the report said, or 2.9 percent above the annual plan for 2011, leaving the January-November trade deficit at $8.81 billion, it said.

Last month the government estimated the trade gap for the first 11 months at $8.9 billion.

Crude oil is Vietnam's second-biggest export item after textiles, with earnings between January and November rising 51.7 percent from a year earlier to $6.76 billion, the report said.

Crude oil exports last month alone jumped 23.7 percent from October to 782,000 tonnes, or 191,000 barrels per day, up from a previous estimate of 733,000 tonnes, it said.

Rice exports between January and November totalled 6.79 million tonnes, up 6.3 percent from a year earlier, while its revenues rose 15.9 percent to $3.46 billion, retaining the grain's position as Vietnam's top agricultural item for export.

Coffee is Vietnam's second-largest agricultural product for export after rice. Shipment last month hit 70,700 tonnes, more than double the previous month and higher than the 50,000 tonnes the government had forecast for the month, the customs said.

Vietnam's export revenues this year are likely to rise 32 percent from 2010 to $96 billion, a state-run newspaper reported, quoting Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang as saying.

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