Phân tích cán cân thương mại Việt - Trung
21 tháng 11, 2013 bởi
Phân tích cán cân thương mại Việt - Trung
Trần Hữu Trung
Phân tích cán cân thương mại Việt - Trung Email | Bản in Thứ năm, 21/11/2013 | 09:19. Bài viết này sẽ giải mã nguyên nhân xu hướng thâm hụt cán cân thương mại giữa Việt Nam và Trung Quốc giai đoạn 2000-2010 bằng việc tính toán, phân tích các số liệu cung cấp bởi Bộ Công Thương và Tổng cục Thống kê Việt Nam. Kết quả cho thấy càng phát triển thương mại với Trung Quốc thì thâm hụt thương mại của Việt Nam càng tăng xuất phát từ các nhân tố kinh tế nội tại và chính sách FDI của Trung Quốc cũng như cơ cấu ngoại thương lạc hậu của Việt Nam và sự kém hiệu quả trong quản lý nhà nước đối với hoạt động này. Phương pháp nghiên cứu: phân tích định tính, phân tích định lượng, và mô tả.

Bài viết này sẽ giải mã nguyên nhân xu hướng thâm hụt cán cân thương mại giữa Việt Nam và Trung Quốc giai đoạn 2000-2010 bằng việc tính toán, phân tích các số liệu cung cấp bởi Bộ Công Thương và Tổng cục Thống kê Việt Nam. Kết quả cho thấy càng phát triển thương mại với Trung Quốc thì thâm hụt thương mại của Việt Nam càng tăng xuất phát từ các nhân tố kinh tế nội tại và chính sách FDI của Trung Quốc cũng như cơ cấu ngoại thương lạc hậu của Việt Nam và sự kém hiệu quả trong quản lý nhà nước đối với hoạt động này. Phương pháp nghiên cứu: phân tích định tính, phân tích định lượng, và mô tả.

Dưới đây là bài báo khoa học “An analysis of trade balance between Vietnam and China” (Phân tích cán cân thương mại Việt - Trung) của ThS. Hoàng Chí Cương - Khoa Quản trị Kinh doanh và ThS. Bùi Thị Phương Mai - Phòng QLKH&ĐTSĐH, Đại học Dân lập Hải Phòng.


This paper will analyze trade balance between Vietnam and China in the period from 2000 to 2010 by using the updated, personal calculated figures set by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO). An interesting finding is that the more trade implemented between two countries, the larger trade deficit Vietnam occupied with this neighbor country due to the Chinese economic factors and its FDI policies as well as the low competitiveness of Vietnam’s foreign trade structure and her inefficient governance. The methodologies taken in this research are using the qualitative, quantitative research tools and descriptive analysis.


Like FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) foreign trade has taken important part for the process of economic development of Vietnam since the Renovation in 1986. After WTO accession, Vietnam has tried to quick its pace on foreign trade with its counterparts. However, Vietnam’s trade deficit has had the upward trend together with the increase of trade size especially with China. What are the causalities of this concern? In this paper, the author will deeply analyze the bilateral trade flows between Vietnam and China to find the causalities of increasing the Vietnam’s trade deficit with China recently.

Figure 1 Export, Import and Trade balance between Vietnam and China in current price (million USD)

Source: Vietnam General Statistics Office (GSO, 2011)

Figure 1 presents Vietnam’s export, import and trade balance with China in the duration 2000 - 2010. It is obvious that the more trade flows between two countries, the more Vietnam’s trade deficit increase with China. Vietnam’s exports to China has risen from USD 1536.4 million in 2000 to USD 7308.8 million in 2010 (4.75 times fold). However, Vietnam’s imports from China has also climbed from USD 1401.1 million to USD 20018.8 million (14.28 times fold) at the same period. Vietnam’s Trade deficit with China has ascended from USD 188.8 million in 2001 to USD 12710 million in 2010, appropriate over 100% of Vietnam’s total trade deficit in the same year.

Concerning about the export and import structure between Vietnam and China, Vietnam has exported mostly Raw materials and Semi - finished goods and some Processed and Refined goodswith low added value (following the Vietnam’s exports by Standard Foreign trade Classification (SITC)) such as: Rubber, Coal, Computers and Components, Cassava, Wood, Gasoline, Crude Oil, other Machineries, Parts and Components, Cashew nuts, Aquatic Products, Footwear, Ores and Minerals, Garments and Textiles, Steel, Vegetables, etc (these goods covered around 80% of Vietnam’s total export to China in 2010, personal calculated from GSO Vietnam, 2011). By contrast, Vietnam imported habitually from China Processed or refined goods like: Machineries, equipments, tools, spare parts, Computers, electronic products and components, Steel, Gasoline, input Materials for Garment, Textile and Footwear industries, Fertilizer, Chemicals, Chemical products, Plastic products, Vehicles and spare parts, Liquefied petroleum gas, Fibers and Yarns etc (these goods amounted around 75% of Vietnam’s total import from China in 2010, personal calculated from GSO Vietnam, 2011). These goods, with higher added value, were served for manufacturing Vietnam’s export goods and domestic consuming. In which, Vietnam’s industries that have high Importation Penetration Rate (IPR) [[i]of China’s goods recently have been: machinery and equipment; coke and refined petroleum; radio, television and telecommunication equipment; office equipment and computer (see Table 1). It means these China’s goods have high competitiveness in Vietnam’s domestic markets due to their competitive prices and they are suitable with Vietnam’s technology level.

The goods imported from China in textile, electric equipment, radio, and telecommunication industries have complemented for domestic manufacturing because domestic output could not satisfy all demand. Other goods imported from China have complemented or replaced for domestic manufactured products depending on each period. A notable finding is that, the Chinese goods which had high IPR in 2008 emphasizing on Electric, Oil and Gas, Metallurgical, Mining, Chemical, and Consumer goods manufacturing sectors (see Table 1 below). [[ii]]

Table 1 The IPR of some China’s products in Vietnam’s markets in 2008



IPR (%)

Manufacturing sectors


Machinery and equipment




Coke and refined petroleum


Oil, Gas, Metallurgical


Radio, television and telecommunication equipment




Office equipment and computer






Consuming goods


Electrical equipment




Motor vehicles repair




Medical instruments, optical instruments, watches








Wood and wood products


Consuming goods


Crude oil and Natural gas


Oil and Gas


Chemicals and Chemical products




Papers and Paper products


Consuming goods


Non-metallic minerals products




Tobacco, Pipe tobacco


Consuming goods

Source: Tu et al. (2011)

What are the determinants of such increase of Vietnam’s imports from China recently? Among all, the following are the main causes. As partly mentioned above, first, the domestic supply has not fulfilled all demands in manufacturing and consuming yet. Second, it has been resulted from slow change in Vietnam’s manufacturing and exporting structures that aim in processing and assembling with 80% - 90% input material imported from abroad. [[iii]] An additional important reason for the increase of Vietnam’s imports from China is that some Chinese enterprises have been becoming big contractors in Vietnam. As Chinese enterprises explained, China is not in the top ten biggest FDI investors in Vietnam owing to their strategy to become the main/big contractors basing on the form of EPC – Engineering, Procurement, and Construction. Vietnam’s bidding mechanism is base on cheap price, so Chinese enterprises easily get win in bidding then become contractors. Under which, Chinese enterprises have won a series of large EPC projects in Vietnam such as Quang Ninh 1 and 2 Thermal Power, Vinh Tan 2 Thermal Power, Hai Phong 1 Thermal Power, Duyen Hai 1 Thermal Power, Kien Luong Thermal Power, Lam Dong Bauxite Aluminum Combination, Aluminum Nhan Co Dak Nong, Ca Mau Fertilizer, Sinh Quyen (Lao Cai) mining and copper metallurgical Plant. [[iv]During the process of implementation the EPC projects in Vietnam, Chinese enterprises import machineries, technologies, equipments, materials, labors, etc as consequence of import increase from China. Moreover, with such EPC projects, the technology spillover from China’s enterprises on Vietnam’s domestic enterprises is limited due to the China’s technology gap in comparison with G7 countries, and China’s enterprises taking all the process of implementation the EPC projects in Vietnam. According to the estimation of Vietnam Metal Association, three industries (Electric, Cement, and Aluminum) will need 107 billion USD for buying machineries, equipments and technologies up to 2025, wherein import amounting to 10-12 billion USD annually.

Regarding the competitiveness capacity and the structure of bilateral trade flows between Vietnam and China, as aforesaid, Vietnam is a developing country so it has tendency of exporting the primary goods with the low added value, while importing the industrial goods with high added value or input materials to fill the domestic gap. To what extent, it is also true in the case of doing foreign trade with China. Comparing the competitive capacity of similar goods (footwear, textile, labor intensive products etc) between two countries base on price, quality, and brand, overall, Vietnam’s goods have less competitiveness than China’s goods. So expansions of Vietnam’s commodities in Chinese markets are facing with challenges. On the contrary, Chinese goods are easier to penetrate Vietnam’s markets as consequence of cheap prices. Likewise, China’s machineries/technologies are suitable with Vietnam’s technology level.

Up to now, Vietnam has not applied any technical barriers in international trade yet to limit imported products abroad. That why, China’s products can considerably penetrate Vietnam’s markets even they are not very pure/or qualify the safe standard in some circumstances. Furthermore, the close of geographical location between two countries is also a factor impacting on Vietnam’s import increase due to the (convenient) transport and (cheap) transaction cost.

As stated by Tran (2012), in one hand, the serious in trade deficit in Vietnam’s foreign trade resulted from the less competitive capacity of Vietnam’s merchandises in both domestic and international markets. On the other hand, it is caused by the low effectiveness in governance of some leaders and authorities. Vietnam’s industries are so “fragile” depending much on mediate goods imported from China. [[v]The calculated figures of trade flows between two countries only reflect the “surface of the iceberg”, the rest of the iceberg (smuggled trade) is still mysterious.

Into the bargain, China has captured the opportunities of the East Asia Free Trade Agreement (EAFTA) including ASEAN members and three Northeast Asia countries: China, Japan and South Korea. The implementation of ASEAN - China Framework Agreement (ACFTA), even the modalities for tariff reduction and elimination have been laid down wherein ASEAN 6 (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine, Singapore, Thai Land) and China have fulfill completed in 2010, and Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) up to 2015, together with China’s accession to the WTO in 2001 has made one cause for this rise. China’s international economic integration has different impacts on regional countries depending on their development levels. Countries which are at the same development levels with China can be very competitive with it and vice versa. These mechanisms have helped China to speed up/stimulate the trade flows within the markets of country members. In the near future, the fulfill implementation of ACFTA between China and CLMV will rise further strong impact on Vietnam’s trade. It means, the current Vietnam’s export-import structure with China will be sustainable for a long time: importing China’s industrial products and exporting resources, agriculture, forestry, and fishery products to this neighbor country.

Vis-à-vis the industrialization and economic development process, China’s industrialization process has been carried out widely with large – scale in many big cities. There have existed many manufacturing industries with high growth rate for years such as appliances, automobiles, personal computers, etc. Moreover, China’s economic development relies mostly on investment and export. The ratio of industrial goods of total export has been increasing rapidly since its accession to the WTO in 2001 (amounting up to 90%). In other words, Chinese industrial goods have penetrated the global markets due to their high competitive capacity. The result of the mechanism of economic growth relying on investment is the phenomenon of overlapping investment and overproduction between many China’s cities/provinces. Accordingly, for Vietnam and regional countries in Southeast Asia with small economic sizes, the Chinese overproduction is one of the main factors causing flooding cheap industrial goods in these countries. Overall, the rise of China is not only a challenge for Asian region but also the rest of the world for its importing resources and fuels as well as competitiveness in foreign trade in international markets. [[vi]]


The lack of domestic supply, the slow change in Vietnam’s manufacturing, export-import structures, the less competitive capacity of Vietnam’s goods, the low effectiveness in governance, the policies of Chinese enterprises in foreign direct investment - becoming big contractors, overproduction resulting from phenomenon of China’s industrialization process and economic development are the crucial factors that have led to the rise of Vietnam’s trade deficit with China recently. These factors should be addressed to have better adjustment in making Government’s policies to put the trade in to balance.


1. Tran Van Tho, “De giai quyet van de nhap sieu” (To solve the super import shortcoming), (accessed on 17th June, 2012).

2. Tu Thuy Anh et al., “Phan tich cau truc tham hut can can thuong mai Viet Nam – Trung Quoc” (An Analysis trade deficit structure between Vietnam and China), in Nguyen Duc Thanh, Nen kinh te truoc nga ba duong (The economy before crossroad), NXB Dai hoc Quoc gia Ha Noi, 2011, p. 268.


Top 15 Vietnam’s merchandises export to China in 2010




Value (1000$)

Proportion in total export (%)














Computer and Components

1000 $




Cassava and Cassava products





Wood and Wood products

1000 $




Gasoline (various types)





Crude oil





Machinery and equipments, tools, accessories

1000 $