Gains made in agriculture offset by disappointing figures for forestry and seafood exports in first month of new year.
Export turnover in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in January was $2.33 billion, a 3.1 per cent decline year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
Import value in the sector for the month was $2.01 billion, a 1 per cent decline year-on-year. The sector therefore recorded a trade surplus of $320 million in the opening month of the year.
High agriculture growth
After falling throughout 2015, agriculture exports in January were up. Rice increased the most, by 46 per cent in value compared to January 2015, to $218 million on 495,000 tonnes.
Exports to Indonesia increased 13.6 per cent in quantity and 5.2 per cent in value, those to the Ivory Coast increased 19.6 per cent and 10.4 per cent, respectively, and those to the United Arab Emirates increased 26.4 per cent and 14.2 per cent, respectively.
Experts predict that Vietnam’s rice exports will have a good 2016 because global rice production is falling. Thailand, for example, plans to cut its rice production from 2016 to 2017 and is encouraging its farmers to grow other crops. Its annual rice exports will be 9 million tonnes per year instead of 12-15 million tonnes as in previous years.
Vietnam’s rice inventory is between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes while orders in January were up to 1.2 million tonnes. The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has predicted that enterprises may have to buy rice from elsewhere in Southeast Asia to meet demand during Tet, perhaps even from China.
Coffee exports stood at 149 tonnes in January, worth $264 million, an 8 per cent increase in quantity but a 9.1 per cent decline in value year-on-year. Germany and the US were the largest markets, accounting for 13.4 per cent and 11.7 per cent, respectively. While global prices have been heading downwards, the domestic coffee price fell to its lowest in ten years in January, with inventories being high and farmers needing to sell cheaply to recoup funds as Tet approaches.
In January rubber exports reached 106,000 tonnes worth $120 million, a 13.3 per cent increase in quantity but a 10.5 per cent decline in value year-on-year, also on the back of falling global prices, according to the Vietnam Rubber Group.
Cashew exports were 24,000 tonnes worth $183 million, a 9 per cent increase in quantity and 15.6 per cent in value year-on-year. The US, China and the Netherlands were Vietnam’s three largest markets, accounting for 34.3 per cent, 14.7 per cent, and 12.8 per cent of value, respectively. Other markets with strong growth included Germany, with 59.3 per cent, the UK 39.8 per cent, and Thailand 34.5 per cent.
Forestry and seafood fall
Wood and wooden product exports in January totaled $489 million, a 15.8 per cent decline year-on-year. The figures were something of a surprise as the annual result for 2015 of $6.9 billion was a 10.7 per cent increase compared to 2014.
Seafood exports were also in decline. Export value in January came in at around $455 million, 8.8 per cent less than in January last year. The US was the largest market, accounting for 19.9 per cent of value but down 23.4 per cent. Exports to Japan and South Korea also fell, by 13.4 per cent and 13.2 per cent, respectively, year-on-year.