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Vietnam posts large trade surplus amid US-China trade row

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Vietnam on Friday recorded a large trade surplus in the first half of this year, with the South-east Asian country benefiting from the long-drawn United States-China trade tensions.

Hanoi

VIETNAM on Friday recorded a large trade surplus in the first half of this year, with the South-east Asian country benefiting from the long-drawn United States-China trade tensions.

Trade surplus came in at US$1.59 billion in the January-June period, swinging from a government forecast of a US$43 million deficit, customs data showed.

Vietnam's exports in the six-month period rose 7.2 per cent to US$122.53 billion from a year earlier as shipments to the US surged 27.4 per cent and South Korea rose 16.8 per cent, according to figures from the Customs Department.

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Smartphones, mostly made by South Korea's Samsung Electronics, were Vietnam's largest export earner in the first half, rising 3.9 per cent to US$23.5 billion from a year ago.

Other key exports included electronics appliances and garments.

Vietnam's two largest trading partners are the US and China, which are embroiled in an escalating trade war.

While Vietnam is enjoying a widening trade surplus with the US, its trade deficit with China continues to grow, prompting the Trump administration to threaten tariffs on products from Vietnam.

Its trade surplus with the US widened to US$17.1 billion in the first five months of this year, from US$12.94 billion a year earlier. Its trade deficit with China, meanwhile, widened to US$16.29 billion, from US$11.05 billion.

Last month, US President Donald Trump said that Hanoi treated the US "even worse" than China.

The US Commerce Department said last week that it would slap tariffs of up to 456 per cent on certain steel produced in South Korea or Taiwan, which are then shipped to Vietnam for minor processing and finally exported to the US.

Vietnam responded by saying that it was committed to free and fair trade with the US, and asked its manufacturers to use local materials to avoid incurring US tariffs.

In June, Vietnam recorded a trade surplus of US$1.93 billion, bigger than a government forecast of US$400 million surplus, customs data showed.

Exports in June fell 2.2 per cent from the previous month to US$21.43 billion, while imports were down 15.9 per cent to US$19.49 billion, the Customs Department said. REUTERS