Hanoi—Vietnam’s coal imports dropped 51% month on month to 153,592 mt in September, according to Vietnam Customs data released late Wednesday.
The value of the imports for the month stood at $22.6 million, down 39.6% on the month. Vietnam Customs did not release data for last September. The country has actively imported coal this year to meet rising domestic demand, particularly that
from power sector.
Indonesia was the biggest supplier in September at 88,569 mt, or 57.7%, of the total. Surprisingly, in September Vietnam imported 63,935 mt of coal (41.6%) from China, its leading coal buyer for years. During January-September, Vietnam imported 2.2 million mt of coal, up 32.5% year on year. The import value in the period was $272 million, up 41.2%.
Over the nine-month period, Vietnam mostly imported coal from Indonesia (1.07 million mt, or 48.6% of thetotal), Australia (435,837 mt, or 19.8%) and China (356,048 mt, or 16.2%). Meanwhile, Vietnam — which mainly produces and exports thermal coal — exported 585,495 mt of coal in September, down 27.2% year on-year, but up 9.6% from August. Exports in September were worth $46 million, 22.3% lower year on year, but up 21.7% above the August value. China remained the biggest buyer of Vietnam’s coal in September (334,908 mt or 57.2% of the total), which was followed by South Korea (123,508 mt or 21.1%) and Japan (95,111 mt or 16.2%).
In January-September, Vietnam exported 5.84 million mt of coal, slipping 34.9% year on year. The export valuein the period was $435 million, 32.9% lower than thesame period in 2013. During January-September, Vietnam mainly exported its coal to China (3.58 million mt, or 61.3% of the total), South Korea (961,441 mt, or 16.4%) and Japan (780,305mt, or 13.4%).
Given complex developments in the East Sea, Vietnam’s key agricultural exports like rice, rubber and cassava continued to face a plenty of challenges. However, contrary to popular worries, the country’s export performances in the first six months showed signs of improvement and pinned hopes on bright economic picture in 2014.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the export value of agricultural, forest and aquatic products was estimated over US$2 billion in June, totalling US$14.67 billion in the first six months of 2014, up 11.2 percent year on year. Specifically, agricultural staples accounted for US$7.15 billion, up 6.6 percent; seafood contributed US$3.45 billion, up 24.2 percent; and forest products made up for US$3.01 billion, up 14.9 percent.
Among key agricultural products, pepper export growth was the most impressive in the first half of this year. Its export value beats estimates by far in the reporting period. The commodity is expected to generate US$1 billion of export revenue for the first time this year. Vietnam exported 16,000 tonnes of pepper worth US$127 million in June and 111,000 tonnes worth US$790 million from January to June, up 36.2 percent in volume and 47.8 percent in value.
Coffee was also a surprising export. The country sold 109,000 tonnes abroad for US$229 million in June and raked in US$2.12 billion from exporting 1.04 million tonnes in the first half, up 24.7 percent in value and up 31.7 percent in volume from a year ago. The average coffee export price was US$2,025 per tonne in the first five months, down 5.85 percent from a year earlier.
The country exported 27,000 tonnes of cashew nuts worth US$178 million in June, bringing the export volume to 130,000 tonnes and the value to US$829 million in the first six months of 2014, up 17.5 percent in volume and 19.5 percent in value year on year. In the first five months of 2014, the export price of cashew nut was US$6,342 per tonne, up 1.18 percent year on year.
Seafood export value was estimated at US$536 million in June, grossing US$3.45 billion in the first half of 2014, up 24.2 percent year on year. The strong growth was attributed to shrimp export because domestic material supply was abundant, export prices were high while shrimp production in other major exporters shrank on disease outbreaks.
However, the country will need to have appropriate measures to boost up key exports in the second half of the year. Rice export volume was estimated at 479,000 tonnes worth US$212 million in June, totalling 3.2 million tonnes and US$1.44 billion in the first six months of 2014, down 9.9 percent in volume and 8 percent in value year on year. The average export rice price was US$439 per tonne in the first five months, down 0.1 percent from a year earlier.
Shares in traditional markets
While seeing a significant growth in key exports, Vietnam also saw expanding shares in traditional markets. China remained the main export markets of Vietnam’s agricultural products in general and rice in particular (40.46 percent of market share). The Philippine outstood with an increase of 2.65 times in volume in the first five months of the year, compared with the same period in 2013. This impressive growth made the Philippines the second biggest importer of Vietnam’s rice, with 20.66 percent of market share, followed by Ghana and Singapore with respective market shares of 4.39 percent and 3.63 percent.
Germany and the United States continued to be the two biggest coffee markets of Vietnam in the first five months of 2014, with respective market shares of 14.35 percent and 9.76 percent. Belgium posted the strongest growth, with an increase of 2.73 times in volume and 2.53 times in value compared with the first five months of 2013.
Pepper export growth was the most impressive in the first half of this year. The United States, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and India, the four largest importers of Vietnam’s pepper, accounted for 47.43 percent of the market share in the first five months 2014. The shipments to the US rose 25.58 percent in volume and 31.56 percent in value. Singapore saw a double increase in volume and a treble growth in value. The United Arab Emirates saw the growth of 55.17 percent in volume and 75.17 percent in value. The shipments to India increased more than 2 times in both volume and value. Remarkably, exports to Span jumped more than five times in volume and almost eight times in value from a year ago.
The United States maintained the largest importer of Vietnamese seafood, accounting for 23 percent of Vietnam’s exports. Seafood exports to this market reached US$671.86 million in the first five months, up 45.83 percent year on year. The shipments to other markets like Japan, South Korea and China increased 8.36 percent, 45.92 percent and 51.74 percent, respectively.
To bolster export growth, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is carrying out drastic measures to adjust production scales and expand export markets.
Vietnam’s export turnover to key markets in Africa in the first five months of this year has seen a remarkable rise from 33%-177%, according to the Vietnam Customs.
The top African importers include Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Angola while export values to South Africa and Senegal fell by 39% and 44%, respectively, due to shrinking rice and gemstone demand.
Vietnam mainly exports rice, coffee, computers, electronics and spare parts, telephones, transport vehicles, equipment, garments and footwear.
Cassava export earnings are likely to reach US$2 billion if local exporters penetrate the European and US markets, according to Nguyen Van Lang, President of the Vietnam Cassava Association.
He noted that while Vietnam has more than 100 processing factories meeting standards of choosy markets, major markets for Vietnamese cassava are currently limited to Asia such as China, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.
According to the association’s statistics, the country now has 560,000 hectares under cassava cultivation, with an annual output of 9.4 million tonnes. It has planned to use all the cassava output for the production of bio-ethanol.
However, the economic downturn has delayed the operation of ethanol factories, forcing cassava producers to export their products.
Last year, Vietnam shipped abroad over 4.2 million tonnes of cassava products, bringing home US$1.35 billion, a year-on-year rise of over 57 percent in volume and 41 percent in value.
Vietnam is now the second largest cassava exporter in the world after Thailand.
The country’s bio-ethanol development project has set the target of producing 750 million litres of ethanol for domestic use by 2015, which will need about 4.2 million tonnes of raw cassava.
The total volume of exported rice from Vietnam this year is estimated to reach 7.5 million tonnes, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).
The association has forecast that 2.2 million tonnes will be shipped abroad in the third quarter and 1.8 million in the fourth quarter.
The VFA presented the figures during a July 5 conference in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho .
It said that based on stockpiles and the output of the recent crops, the total volume of rice waiting to be sold is 5.3 million tonnes.
It was also reported that the country’s accumulative amount of exported rice in the first six months of this years is nearly 3.5 million tonnes, worth 1.5 billion USD, representing a year-on-year rise of 2.55 percent in volume, but a 2.04 percent decline in value due to falling prices.
The total rice inventory is now over 1.65 million tonnes, the VFA added.
Obvious changes were seen in the rice export market during the January-June period, with a decrease in orders from traditional markets. Asia was still the largest destination for Vietnamese rice, accounting for 61.95 percent (down 6.6 percent), followed by Africa with 23.74 percent (up 1.32 percent).
In the first six months of this year, rice export was higher than recorded in the same period from 2012, but still lower than expected due to the market underperforming in June.
Consecutive drops in price also affected the first half of this year, with value decreasing from 410 USD per tonne in January to 365 USD per tonne now.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has also began implementing a plan set by the Prime Minister to hoard up to one million tonnes of rice for this year, the association confirmed.-VNA