Vietnam's 2010 exports to jump 22.6 pct: newspaper

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Vietnam's exports are forecast to jump a higher-than-expected 22.6 percent to $70 billion this year because of favorable market conditions expected in the last two months of the year, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The Industry and Trade Ministry made the forecast on Tuesday after exports in the first 10 months of this year jumped 23.3 percent from the same period last year to $57.8 billion, the Vietnam Economic Times newspaper said in an online report.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told the National Assembly last week that exports would rise 19.1 percent this year, leaving a trade deficit of US$13.5 billion.

The trade ministry also forecast imports would rise 17.9 percent this year to $82.5 billion, which would give a trade deficit of $12.5 billion, below the government's estimate, the newspaper said in its printed edition.

A narrower-than-expected trade deficit could help reduce the pressure on the authorities to further devalue the dong, which is pegged to the US dollar.

A Reuters poll this month forecast a trade deficit of $12.2 billion for this year, after $12.3 billion in 2009. Vietnam's large trade and budget deficits, plus low foreign exchange reserves, make it vulnerable to another devaluation in the dong.

Apart from growing exports of industrial goods, sales abroad of agricultural, forestry and seafood products were expected to rise in the last two months, the newspaper quoted Phan Van Chinh, head of the trade ministry's Export and Import Department, as telling a meeting on Tuesday.

Garments exports in particular could reach $11 billion, or $500 million above the annual target, the report said.

Vietnam, the world's second-largest rice exporter after Thailand, is forecast to ship at least 6 million tons of the grain next year, after a record 6.5 million tons expected in 2010, the Vietnam Economic Times said in a separate report. Part of the grain exports next year would come from deals signed so far in 2010, which have reached a total of 6.84 million tons, the report quoted Deputy Chairman Pham Van Bay of the food association as telling the same trade ministry meeting.

Rice exports in the first 10 months of this year increased 5.8 percent from a year ago to an estimated 5.71 million tonnes, and rice revenue jumped 10.8 percent to $2.67 billion, the government estimated on Monday.

Rice is Vietnam's top foreign exchange earner among its exportable agricultural products.

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