Vietnam posts August trade deficit

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Vietnam's trade balance swung into deficit in August from a surplus the previous month.

The shortfall was US$800 million, compared with a revised $1.1 billion surplus in July, based on preliminary figures released by the General Statistics Office in Hanoi Thursday.

For the eight months through August, Vietnam posted a trade deficit of $6.2 billion, the report showed. July's surplus was the first since 2009, based on previously released data.

Shipments of gold contributed to July's surplus, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Exports of precious metals fell sharply to $200 million in August, Thursday's data showed, following the widening of a tax on overseas sales of gold jewelry.

Rising purchases from overseas by foreign companies operating in Vietnam offer "circumstantial evidence that foreign direct investment is fueling imports," Fitch Ratings said this month. The trade shortfall isn't due to a "runaway consumer boom," and exports have been "robust," the ratings company said.

Exports in August fell to $8.3 billion from a revised $9.32 billion in July. For the first eight months of the year overall, shipments climbed 33.7 percent to $60.8 billion.

Imports in August rose to $9.1 billion from a revised $8.22 billion in July. For the first eight months of the year overall, purchases from abroad advanced 25.4 percent to $67 billion.

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