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February 20, 2009

Vietnam reports $400m in trade surplus

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

Reuters quoted the central bank as saying that exports were $3.72 billion and imports were $3.3 billion, citing 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 balloning 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 favourable" in January, and that the dong <VND=> exchange rate had been stable.

In late January, Vietnam's 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 have sunk 45 percent 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 traditionally big import items, such as oil and steel products, suffered sharp drops, but the central bank did not explain why imports dropped more than expected.

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