“So far, Vietnam has yet to have an economic dependence on any country,” Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc assured National Assembly (NA) deputies on Thursday.
The deputy PM made the statement during a Q&A session of the NA in response to nine NA deputies who voiced their worry about Vietnam’s dependency on the Chinese economy – the world’s second largest – and what the government has done and will do to avoid such reliance.
These deputies raised their concerns in the context that China has illegally placed and maintained its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s waters since May 1 despite strong protests from the Southeast Asian country.
Assuring the questioners about his affirmation, Phuc said, “I have enough data to prove my point.”
However, in fact, in the context of economic globalization, a country cannot totally separate its economy from others, which means there is no absolute dependence, Phuc said.
The issue here is that Vietnam should improve its economy to make it stronger so that it can cope more effectively with difficult circumstances, especially when China has illegally planted its rig within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, he added.
It is now necessary for Vietnam to re-structure the national economy, modify its growth model, and improve the investment environment to attract more foreign investors, Phuc said.
“We also need to expand and diversify our import and export markets, boost the domestic production of materials for use in manufacturing exports, and tap the potential of the domestic market of 90 million people,” the official said.
Vietnam has signed six free trade agreements – bilateral and multilateral – with its partners, including the World Trade Organization, and is negotiating many other treaties.
It is expected that next year Vietnam will become a signatory to 16 free trade agreements involving 55 countries and territories, opening up many opportunities for the nation to expand its trade relations.
“However, while expanding and diversifying markets, we will still maintain our existing relations, especially in trade, investment, and tourism, with China on the principle of equality and mutual benefits,” Deputy PM Phuc said.
Trade deficit with China
However, at an earlier meeting of the legislature on June 2, which debated measures to reduce Vietnam’s dependence on the Chinese economy, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang recognized that Vietnam is suffering a trade deficit with China.
The value of goods exported from Vietnam to China last year accounted for nine percent of the former’s total export turnover of US$10 billion, he said.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s imports from China in 2013 made up as much as 23 percent of the Southeast Asian country’s total import value of over $30 billion, Minister Hoang said.
Such a trade deficit with China has existed for many years and has become a concern for many economic sectors in Vietnam, he pointed out.
Therefore, the Vietnamese government has asked the ministry to take measures to cut the trade gap, the minister said.
Meanwhile, Huynh Ngoc Dang, an NA deputy from southern Binh Duong Province, said two different economies can cooperate with each other on the basis of a win-win policy, which means mutual benefits for both.
But there will be a danger if one of the two sides is economically dependent on the other, the deputy added.
Meanwhile, according to official statistics, the Vietnamese economy is much reliant on China for many kinds of materials and supplies for production, and for outlets of agricultural produce, Dang said.