Vietnam factories are winning the trade war: S&P Panjiva analyst

Workers sewing at the Pan-Pacific Co Viet Pacific Clothing factory in Vietnam's Bac Ninh province. Apparel shipments from Vietnam to the United States were up by 14.6 per cent year on year in the first two months of 2019.
MARCH 28, 2019 - 4:27 PM

VIETNAM could be scooping up factory and trade opportunities from the US-China trade war, one supply chain research analyst believes.

Chris Rogers, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, pointed to the divergence in export figures from both Vietnam and its giant neighbour, China, for the first two months of 2019.

Seaborne Vietnamese exports to the United States jumped by 17.3 per cent in January and February altogether, even as Chinese shipments to the US fell by 4.9 per cent in the same period, he noted. This was even as overall exports out of Vietnam rose by 0.1 per cent on the year before.

“As business uncertainties mount regarding the long-term trade relations between China and the United States companies are increasingly considering alternative supply chain options,” Mr Rogers wrote in an analysis of the export data. “Vietnam has been one of the longer-term destinations for manufacturers shifting out of China.”

He hewed to the market view that the US-China trade war, while not the sole factor, sped up many businesses’ flight out of China when it came to production operations.

A good chunk of the export growth came from furniture shipments - up by 25.3 per cent year on year - while shipments of capital goods grew by 16.1 per cent. These are both product segments where Chinese exports to the US have been hit by duties, Mr Rogers noted.

But he added that “it’s not just about tariffs”.

Clothes exports were also up by 14.6 per cent, despite Vietnam’s shift from labour-intensive and low-value manufacturing to higher-value goods over the past decade, said Mr Rogers, who covers global trade policy, logistics and industrial supply chains for S&P’s Panjiva research unit.