Vietnam’s Top 10 Exports

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The eastern-most nation on Southeast Asia’s Indochina Peninsula, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam shipped an estimated US$277.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects an 83.7% gain since 2014 and a 29% improvement from 2017 to 2018.

From a continental perspective, 52.8% of Vietnam exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 21.8% were sold to North American importers. Vietnam shipped another 19.2% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (2.4%), Oceania led by Australia (1.8%) then Africa (1.1%).

Given Vietnam’s population of 97 million people, its total $277.4 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $2,900 for every resident in the Southeast Asian nation.

In macroeconomic terms, Vietnam’s total exported goods represent 39.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($710.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 39.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 53.9% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Vietnam’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Vietnam also provided $15.1 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 2.1% of GDP in PPP. These metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Vietnam’s unemployment rate was 2.17% at March 2019 down from 2.2% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Vietnam’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Vietnamese global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Vietnam.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$107.8 billion (39% of total exports)
  2. Footwear: $21.8 billion (7.9%)
  3. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $15.7 billion (5.7%)
  4. Machinery including computers: $15.1 billion (5.5%)
  5. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $14.6 billion (5.3%)
  6. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $9.7 billion (3.5%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $6.2 billion (2.2%)
  8. Fish: $5.5 billion (2%)
  9. Plastics, plastic articles: $4.1 billion (1.5%)
  10. Leather/animal gut articles: $4.1 billion (1.5%)

Vietnam’s top 10 exports accounted for almost three-quarters (74.1%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 46.7% year over year since 2017.

In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment which was up by 43.7%.

Vietnam’s shipments of footwear posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 43.5% year over year.

The leading decliner among the top 10 Vietnam export categories was optical, technical, medical apparatus: which fell -16.9%

From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, phone system devices including smartphones represent Vietnam’s most valuable exported product at 21.3% of the country’s total. In second place was integrated circuits and microassemblies (5.6%) trailed by textile footwear (3.8%), TV, radio or radar device parts (3.2%), leather footwear (2.3%), miscellaneous furniture (2.2%), printing machinery (1.8%) insulated wire or cable (1.6%), knit or crochet jerseys and pullovers (1.5%) then rubber or plastic footwear (1.4%).


Overall, Vietnam posted a $20.2 billion trade surplus during 2018, up by 509.7% from the $3.3 billion in black ink one year earlier.

The following types of Vietnamese product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$39.7 billion (Up by 223.9% since 2017)
  2. Footwear: $19.9 billion (Up by 39.1%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $12.9 billion (Up by 9.8%)
  4. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $12.6 billion (Up by 3.6%)
  5. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $8 billion (Up by 33.7%)
  6. Leather/animal gut articles: $3.5 billion (Up by 19.2%)
  7. Coffee, tea, spices: $3.2 billion (Down by -18.9%)
  8. Wood: $2 billion (Up by 257.4%)
  9. Meat/seafood preparations: $2 billion (Down by -7%)
  10. Rubber, rubber articles: $1.9 billion (Up by 19.9%)

Vietnam has highly positive net exports in the international trade of electrical machinery and equipment. In turn, these cashflows indicate Vietnam’s strong competitive advantages under the electrical products category.


Below are exports from Vietnam that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Vietnam’s goods trail Vietnamese importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$9.4 billion (Down by -16.9% since 2017)
  2. Plastics, plastic articles: -$9.1 billion (Down by -6.3%)
  3. Mineral fuels including oil: -$8.7 billion (Up by 32.8%)
  4. Iron, steel: -$7.5 billion (Up by 3%)
  5. Knit or crochet fabric: -$6 billion (Up by 63.5%)
  6. Vehicles: -$3.8 billion (Up by 72.5%)
  7. Organic chemicals: -$3.5 billion (Up by 17.1%)
  8. Meat: -$3.4 billion (Up by 1260%)
  9. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$3.3 billion (Up by 299.3%)
  10. Manmade filaments: -$3 billion (Up by 91.6%)

Vietnam has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category, notably air conditioning machines.


Vietnamese Export Companies

Two Vietnamese corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. One company, Vietin Bank is a regional bank.

The other large business, Petrovietnam Gas is part of the following list of Vietnamese international trade businesses:

  • Petrovietnam Gas (petroleum/natural gas)
  • Samsung Electronics (electronics)
  • Viettel Group (telecommunications)
  • Vinamilk (dairy products)
  • DOJI Gold and Gems Group (gold, jewelry)
  • FPT Group (information technology)
  • Hoa Phat Group (metals)
  • Habeco (beer)
  • World Auto (cars, motorcycles)
  • Danang Rubber Company (rubber)


Vietnam’s capital is Hanoi, a city nicknamed “Paris of the Orient” and “Paris of the East”.

See also Vietnam’s Top 10 Imports and Top Asian Export Countries

Research Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on East Asia/Southeast Asia: Vietnam. Accessed on April 13, 2019

Forbes 2018 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 6, 2019

Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on April 13, 2019

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 28, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 28, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 28, 2019

Wikipedia, Hanoi. Accessed on April 13, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Vietnam. Accessed on April 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 28, 2019

Wikipedia, Vietnam. Accessed on April 13, 2019