Vietnam experienced major difficulties in 2020 due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but nonetheless fulfilled the dual task of fighting the disease and maintaining a stable environment for socioeconomic development.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam successfully performed the roles of ASEAN Chair 2020 and non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure.
In August, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) officially took effect holding out opportunities for businesses of both sides, and reflecting Vietnam’s economic openness to the world. Vietnam maintains trade relations with more than 230 markets, including free trade agreements with 60 economies, creating favorable conditions for businesses to expand their markets and making it easier to connect and engage more deeply in the value chain as well as the global production network.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) signed on November 15, 2020, also boosted the Vietnamese business community’s confidence, contributing to economic recovery during the post-pandemic period and solidifying the sustainable structure of the regional economy. The deal will offer opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to expand markets, boost exports, participate in new value chains in the region and attract more foreign investment.
To prevent disruptions to bilateral trade, the United Kingdom-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) was officially inked on December 29, 2020. Based on the commitments and standards inherited from the EVFTA, the UKVFTA will be a new driving force to promote bilateral trade and investment relations.
Record trade surplus
Despite the severe effects of the pandemic in 2020 that quashed global trade and investment, Vietnam’s exports maintained growth, demonstrating greater efforts by authorities and the business community.
Vietnam fulfilled the import and export targets of the 2011-2020 period ahead of schedule. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam exported goods worth an estimated US$281.5 billion in 2020, up 6.5 percent from 2019. The country imported goods worth an estimated US$262.4 billion in the same year, up 3.6 percent from 2019.
Vietnamese businesses have exploited traditional, new and potential markets effectively, and made good use of incentives provided by free trade agreements.
In 2020, Vietnam enjoyed a record trade surplus of nearly US$19.1 billion, almost twice the 2019 level of US$10.87 billion and a nearly 11-fold increase compared to 2016. Trade surplus contributes to economic growth and aids the exchange rate and foreign exchange reserves, providing resources for post-pandemic economic recovery in 2021.
To motivate export activities, the Ministry of Industry and Trade chaired and coordinated with other ministries, departments, localities and trade promotion agencies at home and abroad to strengthen application of information technology and digital platforms. More than 500 trade promotion conferences were held online in 2020. As a result, over one million online trading sessions were performed and several thousand Vietnamese businesses were provided support, helping them maintain and develop relations with foreign partners.