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HCMC’s exports to most major markets decline

By Le Hoang

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HCMC – HCMC’s exports to most of its major markets, such as the United States, Japan, the European Union and China, declined last year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The information was announced at a seminar on “Addressing difficulties for import and export enterprises to create trade advantages in the Covid-19 context” co-organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade on January 18.

Le Huynh Minh Tu, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade, said although the city adopted various measures to support the operations and recovery of enterprises, thus boosting exports, the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic led to most economic indicators of the city in 2021 faring worse than in 2020.

The city exported goods worth a total of US$43.9 billion last year, falling by over one percentage point compared with 2020. Particularly, the city’s exports to Japan, China, the U.S. and the EU decreased 14.7%, 8.7%, 2.3% and 0.8%, respectively.

Exports of farm produce saw positive growth, with coffee, rice, cashew nuts, rubber and peppercorns rising 9.3%, 11.7%, 13.3%, 48.6% and 61.1% year-on-year, respectively.

Meanwhile, the exports of most industrial products declined. The city’s exports of computers, electronic products and accessories were down 5.2% year-on-year; machinery, tools and equipment down 2.2%; textiles and garments down 21.4%; and footwear down 24.8%.

According to Tu, the operations of enterprises in the city gradually recovered after social distancing measures were relaxed and production and trade activities were resumed. However, they are still facing numerous challenges such as labor shortages, fears over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, increasing costs, container shortages, limited access to capital and a lack of input materials.

Ann Marie Yastishock, director of USAID in Vietnam, said the U.S. is one of the biggest buyers of HCMC’s goods. The USAID launched the Trade Facilitation Program, which will be implemented until 2023 to facilitate Vietnam’s standardization of policies and procedures for export and import, strengthen national and provincial coordination, and build the capacity of provincial customs officers.

This US$21.7-million program is expected to help Vietnam adopt and implement a risk management approach to customs and specialized inspection agencies, which will strengthen the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, of which both Vietnam and the U.S. are members.

According to Yastishock, HCMC is one of the six localities of Vietnam where the USAID Trade Facilitation Program is carried out and the city has always been a strategic partner of USAID in Vietnam.

In its export development plan until 2025, with a vision toward 2030, HCMC targets an annual export growth rate of 9.5% in the 2021-2025 period and 9% in the 2026-2030 period. The city’s exports are expected to reach US$70 billion in 2025 and US$108 billion in 2030.

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