Vietnam spent as much as US$12.26 million every day in the first half of this month importing cars, according to the latest customs data.
The Southeast Asian country brought home 5,455 CBU (Completely Built Up) cars, collectively worth $184 million, in the first two weeks of May, the Vietnam Customs said on its website on Monday.
CBU vehicles are those built outside of the country.
Customs data shows that Vietnam spent $12.26 million importing 364 CBU cars on a daily basis in the first half of this month.
Vietnam’s car imports in the year to May topped $1.21 billion, a massive 185.7 percent from the same period last year and the strongest growth among import commodities, according to the Vietnam Customs.
The General Statistics Office has also published its own data, which said Vietnam’s car imports for May is estimated at 10,000 units, up 66 percent from May 2014.
Total import of CBU vehicles in the first five months of the year is thus estimated at 45,000 units, a 125.3 percent rise from the Jan-May period in 2014.
Car imports into Vietnam have also become more expensive, according to statistics.
While the import volume in May was not higher than that in April, there was a $43 million increase in terms of value, according to the General Statistics Office.
As of May 15, Vietnam’s exports reached $56.09 billion, up 8.6 percent from the same period last year, whereas imports stood at $59.78 billion, up 18.7 percent year on year, according to the Vietnam Customs.
This represents a $3.7 billion trade deficit, largely driven by the rising car imports.
China, South Korea, Japan, and India are Vietnam’s largest car suppliers.
The soaring import of CBU only exacerbates concerns over a possible collapse of the CKD, or completely knocked down, sector in Vietnam.
CKD vehicles are those assembled locally using major parts, components, and technology imported from the country of its origin.
CKD are losing their competitiveness against CBU as duties for cars imported from ASEAN countries are scheduled to be slashed to zero in 2018 as part of the commitments to the EU-style economic community they will establish by the end of this year.
ASEAN is a ten-member bloc which includes such Southeast Asian countries as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
By then, it will be cheaper to import CBU vehicles for sale in Vietnam than assemble the CKD ones, according to industry insiders.
Vietnam imported around 72,000 CBU cars worth $1.57 billion in 2014, a 103.8 percent increase in volume and 117.3 percent in value compared to 2013.
CBU accounted for nearly 50 percent of the country’s automobile market.