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$400 million trade surplus in January, says central bank   2009-02-19 - Reuters

The trade surplus was more than US$400 million in January, the central bank said in a revision of a government report that had expected a deficit of $300 million.


Exports were $3.72 billion and imports were $3.3 billion, it said quoting customs figures. It gave no further details.

The country has run annual trade deficits for at least the past 14 years, and last year the ballooning trade gap coupled with soaring inflation took the economy close to a crisis. Monthly statistics were not immediately available.

The State Bank of Vietnam also said fundamental macroeconomic indicators, including inflation, were "quite favorable" in January, and that the foreign exchange rate had been stable.

In late January, the statistics bureau estimated that the trade deficit that month had narrowed to $300 million, a fraction of the $2.41 billion deficit the country had in the same month a year earlier as the value of key imports plunged.

It had expected imports to be 45 percent down from the same month last year to $4.1 billion and exports to have dipped 24.2 percent from the same period last year to $3.8 billion.

The statistics office said in January big-ticket imports like oil and steel products traditionally suffer sharp drops, but the central bank did not explain why imports dropped more than expected.

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