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.