Minister, 2023 can be said to be a year with unprecedented difficulties for the global and Vietnamese economies, as well as the industry and trade sector. How have these difficulties affected the sector and how has the sector responded to them?
In 2023, the global situation continued to develop rapidly, complexly, and unpredictably, with the global economy recovering slower than expected; many countries, including our major trading partners, experienced declining growth; although inflation has cooled down, it remains at a high level, leading many large economies to maintain tight monetary policies, overall demand decreased, directly impacting economies with large openness, including Vietnam…
Domestically, the economy has gradually regained its growth momentum, especially in the industrial sector, adapting better to the new global situation. However, there are still many difficulties and challenges, especially the “double impact” from external unfavorable factors and long-lasting internal restrictions and shortcomings. However, under the unified and resolute leadership and direction of the Party, State, and the entire nation, we have made efforts and overcome difficulties in 2023. In comparison, if we look at the global economic growth rate of 2.9%, the EU’s growth rate of 0.8%… or in the ASEAN region, only the Philippines had higher growth compared to Vietnam, we can evaluate that Vietnam’s economic growth in 2023 is very commendable.
For the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the direct impacts of these difficulties include a significant decline in export and industrial production in the early months of the year (in the first two months of 2023, the processing and manufacturing sector decreased by 6.9%, which has not happened in many years; the level of linkages between enterprises in the sector and related sectors is still limited; domestic trade growth, although high, is not as high as in previous years before the COVID-19 pandemic; the situation of smuggling, trade fraud, counterfeit goods, hoarding goods waiting for price increases in the domestic market, competition violations… were complexly developing.
In addition, monitoring, evaluation, and implementation of integration commitments have been proactive, innovative in implementation but still have limitations in the participation capacity of domestic enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.
These limitations have both subjective and objective causes. However, based on the comprehensive, consistent, and determined implementation of Party Central Committee resolutions, National Assembly resolutions, and the direction and management of the Government and the Prime Minister, in 2023, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has early identified difficulties and challenges and actively and creatively concentrated on building and implementing comprehensive, synchronized, and comprehensive solutions and tasks assigned, achieving positive results and making important contributions to the country’s economic growth.
Some outstanding results of the industry and trade sector in 2023 are: domestic trade maintains a relatively high growth rate, exceeding the set target and serving as a support for the economy in the context of difficulties in industrial production and exports. E-commerce continues to develop strongly, maintaining its position among the world leaders in terms of growth rate, becoming an important distribution channel, contributing to the development of supply chains and goods circulation, and driving economic development. Industrial production and exports in the latter months of the year have recovered positively; in particular, the trade surplus has reached a record high for the 8th consecutive year (nearly 27 billion USD), nearly 3 times higher than last year, contributing to increasing foreign exchange reserves, stabilizing exchange rates, and other macroeconomic indicators. Both the coal and oil and gas industries have achieved and exceeded their production and consumption targets compared to the same period last year and exceeded the annual plan. In addition, other tasks of the Ministry have also been effectively completed, meeting the set targets and plans… providing favorable conditions and a foundation for the industry to overcome difficulties and grow in a challenging market.
Although import and export in 2023 did not reach high and consistent numbers like in 2022, experts still recognize that it was a great effort and achieved the highest surplus in many years. Minister, could you please elaborate on this issue?
As we know, the political and economic situation in 2023 was complex, fast-changing, and unpredictable, creating competition pressure for Vietnam’s exports. In addition, trade protection policies and price competition among exporting countries with similar products increased; countries were increasingly creating technical barriers, putting new pressure on Vietnam’s exports, and having a very unfavorable impact on domestic industrial and trade activities, especially Vietnam’s exports.
Adhering strictly to the direction of the Government and the Prime Minister, in 2023, the Ministry of Industry and Trade actively carried out market development activities both broadly and deeply. For example, in trade promotion, along with trade fairs and trade connections nationwide and in key foreign markets such as China, Thailand, Europe… trade mission meetings have been innovated with specific requirements. Looking back, there were 12 trade mission meetings each month with 12 different topics covering many sectors, industries, and markets. Some meetings provided guidance to businesses and associations on specific export market requirements, while some meetings directly resolved difficulties at that time, such as with the Chinese market… The Ministry of Industry and Trade also regularly updated the export activity at border gates to propose timely solutions and recommendations to remove obstacles for the smooth flow of goods.
Thanks to timely and positive solutions taking advantage of the recovery of major traditional markets, our export activities have been maintained and strengthened. The total import-export turnover for the year is estimated at 683 billion USD, of which exports are estimated at 355.5 billion USD and imports at 327.5 billion USD. To be frank, this growth rate has not met expectations and has not reached the set target for 2023, but in the context of slow global economic growth, the world’s total demand decreased, and Vietnam’s exports have overcome difficulties and significantly reduced the decline at the end of the year compared to the beginning of the year, showing the efforts of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in export management.