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Viet NaASEAN trade important to VNm’s trade relationship with the ASEAN is growing in importance, according to Louis Taylor, CEO of the Standard Chartered Bank in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.

“This year will be better for the domestic economy although conditions remain challenging,” he told a press conference held in Ha Noi yesterday.

“Exports are likely to be a key driver to the country’s economic growth in 2013. We expect the shift of manufacturing to Viet Nam from other developing countries to continue to benefit its trading sector. Free trade agreements currently under negotiation are also likely to favour continued improvement in external trade in the coming years,” he explained.

The ASEAN is the third-largest export market for Viet Nam, accounting for more than 10 per cent of the country’s total exports; it is the second-largest supplier to the country, accounting for 20 per cent of the nation’s total imports, according to Taylor.

A press release from the bank noted that Viet Nam’s trade with the bloc had grown significantly over the last three years.

In 2011, Viet Nam’s exports to ASEAN reached US$13.6 billion while imports from the bloc amounted to $20.7 billion. Last year, its total exports grew by 20 per cent, outpacing other regional nations.

Electronics exports registered outstanding growth of nearly 86 per cent year-on-year in 2012 due to trade with the ASEAN+3.

“Intra-bloc trade will continue to grow as member countries turn to new trade corridors to reduce their dependence on Europe and the US,” Taylor said.

“Further regional economic integration would benefit Viet Nam more and particularly help it increase capital and investment flows,” he stressed.

Taylor claimed that a relatively stable exchange rate benefited Vietnamese exports but Viet Nam had seen trade deficits with Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia for the last few years, a situation he said could be improved if the country’s export structure was upgraded.

Regionally, the country exported primary products such as crude oil and rice and imported higher-end products including refined oil and electronic parts.

Other CEOs of the bank in the region said that Viet Nam was witnessing a huge marketplace, but the country would have to assure policy consistency, improve goods quality, increase products’ domestic content and upgrade shipping infrastructure if it targeted market expansion.

The ASEAN+6, which includes China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand, now generates a total gross domestic growth (GDP) of about $20 trillion or nearly 30 per cent of the global GDP, according to the bank’s experts.— VNS

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