return icon

China benefits the most from Vietnam’s trade surplus

Vietnam has joined many multilateral and bilateral trade agreements in recent years. The question is what the country receives from these trade relations.



Foreign trade statistics show that Vietnam has always gained a trade surplus with the United States, the EU and Japan while the country’s trade with China and South Korea has constantly been in deficit and this trend has been growing. In 2010, Vietnam’s trade deficit with China was US$12.5 billion. In 2019, the figure was US$34 billion, 2.7 times higher against 2010. The deficit with South Korea also rose from US$6.6 billion in 2010 to US$27.3 billion in 2019.

Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States was US$10.5 billion in 2010 and US$47 billion in 2019. The trade surplus with the EU increased from US$5 billion in 2010 to US$26.6 billion in 2019, and the trade surplus with Japan also rose. Consequently, in 2019, Vietnam enjoyed a trade surplus of US$74 billion with the United States, the EU and Japan while the country suffered a trade deficit of US$61.3 billion with China and South Korea(1).

According to estimated figures in 2020, Vietnam’s trade with the EU fell slightly, with exports to the bloc down by 15% and imports from the bloc down about 2%. Exports to the United States increased strongly, at 26%, but imports dipped about 5%, so the trade surplus with the states in 2020 soared 35% from 2019, from US$46.9 billion to US$63.1 billion.

Meanwhile, the trade deficit with China and South Korea in 2020 increased about 3% from 2019, from US$61.3 billion to US$63 billion. As a result, the trade surplus with the United States equals the trade deficit with China and South Korea.

Vietnam’s exports to the United States and the EU are mainly sub-contracted goods. Telephones and components account for about 15% of total exports to the states and end-consumption products like textiles, garments and footwear 35%.

A rough calculation from the inter-country input-output model for Vietnam, the EU, the United States and China with figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows the ripple effect of end-products and final demand of each country on the production value of that country and countries with which it has trade relations.

One of the preliminary results shows that exports of sub-contracted goods and essential goods for end-consumption do not have much ripple effect on the production and the added value of Vietnam but on the production and the added value of countries from which Vietnam imports input materials for the sub-contracted goods. Of note, about 60% of Vietnam’s import value from China over the past many years has gone to spending for intermediary costs, 30% to gross capital formation and only 10% to end-consumption of the Vietnamese population.

It can be observed therefore that Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States and the EU can have a strong ripple effect on the production and the income of China. As a matter of fact, it is what to export that counts and is worth mentioning as an achievement. Exports do not have much significance if they are merely sub-contracted goods for other countries, and the country that benefits from Vietnam’s “export achievement” can be China or South Korea.

The General Statistics Office is conducting an in-depth study into this issue to find quantitative evidences and suggest policy recommendations for economic restructuring towards harmonious, sustainable growth.



FIEs retain pole position in bolstering trade surplus

FIEs retain pole position in bolstering trade surplus

While many developed countries have been struggling with the pandemic, Vietnam has maintained a trade surplus of nearly $1.29 billion in the first two months of 2021.


Love is in the air at sporting tournament

With the SEA Games 31 nearly at an end, people have been through every level of emotion, from historic wins to inspiring stories and beautiful moments.


Vietnam backs rules-based multilateral trading system: official

HCM City museums seek to digitize, widen reach

Most museums in HCM City are in the process of restoring, upgrading and rearranging their display systems after long closures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

VN determinedly stops slow public investment projects

It is estimated that until May 31, Vietnam disbursed only 22.37 percent of its public investment budget.

Vietnam’s SEA Games football victory finds prominent coverage in foreign media

ESPN ran a front-page story headlined “Vietnam retain Southeast Asian Games gold medal against Thailand to prove they are still force to be reckoned with,” saying “even at the simplest level, it was a victory with plenty of significance.”


SEA Games 31: Vietnam’s shooting team surpass set target

Vietnam’s pangasius exports return to high level

After a period of difficulty in key export markets, Vietnam’s exports of pangasius catfish have recovered and grown strongly in the early months of 2022.

New record, big stride of Vietnam’s sport

Vietnam have wrapped up their SEA Games 31 run at the top of the medal table with 205 golds, including the much-anticipated one in the men’s football claimed on May 22 night.

More favourable rule system urged for healthcare PPPs

A more robust legal framework is being sought to strengthen public-private partnerships in the health sector, thus increasing the system’s resilience and sustainability for better preparation for new pandemics.

Vietnam promotes development agenda on WEF 52 sidelines

Deputy PM Le Minh Khai of Vietnam met a number of executives of international organisations and businesses on the sidelines of the ongoing 52nd World Economic Forum in Switzerland to promote connectivity between the government and businesses.

Hanoi’s specialty listed among CNN's best Asian noodle dishes

Pho, Bun cha and Cao lau were praised by US news site CNN to be the best the most mouth-watering noodle dishes across Asia.

Vietnam's special things: Bun rieu served on pink-themed boat at floating market

An old farmer in Gia Lai Province turns bamboo into a micro communal house while a teacher in Quang Nam Province creates unique works of art from discarded leaves.

Foreign e-commerce platforms must set up an office or appoint representative in Vietnam

Foreign traders and foreign organizations having e-commerce activities in Vietnam must establish representative offices or appoint representatives according to Vietnam’s regulations.

Coal reserves running out, VN to import coal to generate electricity

Domestic coal production is mainly used for electricity production. In 2019, domestic coal for power generation accounted for 76% of total coal output.

Banks unveil ambitious charter capital hike plans

Banks have faced pressure to increase their charter capital over the past few years to enhance their financial capacity and improve safety indicators to get closer to international standards.