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Vietnam increasingly dependent on China

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Staff writer ▼ | December 11, 2014
Vietnam's trade deficit to China surged again this year despite pledges to reduce dependence on the dominant supplier following last May's oil rig row.
Vietnam import
Relations   The General Statistics Office
The latest figures from the General Statistics Office showed that Chinese imports to Vietnam during the first 11 months of this year hit $39.9 billion, up 18.9 percent year-on-year. That left a trade deficit of $26.4 billion or a 22.1 percent increase from last year.

Government officials and economists regularly express alarm about Vietnam's growing trade deficit with China, to little effect.

The rhetoric became particularly pointed in late May, when Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Vietnam must seek out new trading partners. At the time, Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang echoed his point.

But at the end of the day, local shops and markets remain loaded with Chinese products, everything from chopsticks to cloth and mechanical components.

Fruits and vegetables from China also dominate local markets. A vendor at Thu Duc wholesale vegetable market said her supply from China has stayed the same. Hanh, a vendor at Pham Van Hai Market in Tan Binh District, said her regular customers still ask for Chinese fruit because it's so cheap. She said news that Chinese fruit was found to contain high levels of pesticides and preservatives has barely affected her business.

She said her customers are restaurants and karaoke parlors who serve cut fruit and their customers cannot tell the difference.

Pham Sy Thanh, director of the Chinese program at the University of Economics at Hanoi National University, said Vietnam depends too much on China due to its weak supporting industries.