Trade War Winner Vietnam Sees Exports Drop For Sixth Month

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Vietnam’s exports fell for a sixth straight month in August, extending the longest plunge since 2009 amid softer global demand for goods and China’s worsening economic outlook.

Exports declined 7.6% this month from a year earlier, data released by the General Statistics Office showed Tuesday. While smaller than the 9.5% drop seen by economists in a Bloomberg survey, the print adds to the grim sentiment.

Higher demand for goods is key to bolstering economic growth for the nation, which emerged as a manufacturing and export powerhouse in the midst of the US-China trade war. The months-long contraction in outbound shipments now risks putting the government’s full-year target of 6.5% gross domestic product growth out of reach.

The Southeast Asian nation, which shares a border with China, has seen exports drop amid a faltering recovery in its neighbor’s economy and a slowdown in global demand for goods. Trade accounts for almost twice the nation’s GDP — more than any country in Asia apart from Singapore. Vietnamese businesses are still struggling “as difficulties and challenges remain great, with the global economic downturn,” the trade and industry ministry said in a statement earlier this month. “There is a lack of orders, especially with the export market being narrowed,” it said.

Vietnam’s benchmark stocks index opened little changed Tuesday after the data.

August inflation quickened 2.96% from a year ago, according to the statistics office, which was higher than the level penciled in by all six economists in a Bloomberg survey. Price gains were the fastest in five months, driven by higher food prices, the government said.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on July 4 ordered ministries to focus on measures to boost rice exports as the government seeks to take advantage of global market opportunities to bolster economic growth in the second half of the year.

Earlier this month, Chinh said the government aims to push economic growth to about 9% in the second half of the year in order to meet the full-year target of 6.5%.

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