Vietnam tells companies to curb iPhone imports to trim deficit

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Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications told companies not to import "too many" of Apple Inc.'s iPhone as the government tries to cut purchases of luxury items to narrow the trade deficit.

"Phone companies should carefully consider their import plans of iPhones as well as other related 3G equipment," said Nguyen Thanh Hung, vice minister of information and communication. "We need to economize, and we shouldn't waste our money on luxury items" as Vietnam struggles with a widening shortfall, Hung said in a telephone interview Wednesday from Hanoi.

The Southeast Asian nation's deficit grew 8 percent in April to $1.25 billion from the previous month, as an expanding economy drove an increase in import costs. Imports of consumption goods have been "ballooning" in recent months, HSBC Holdings Plc. wrote in a research note after the figures were released last week.

For the four months through April, Vietnam posted a $4.65 billion trade shortfall, compared with a surplus reported at the same time a year ago. For the year to date, imports surged 36 percent to $24.81 billion.

Telephone operators and service providers need to carefully work on import plans to avoid "massive" purchases of iPhones, according to an instruction from Ministry of Information and Communication.

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