That dollar amount reflects an 89.1% gain since 2017 when Vietnam’s exported goods were worth $215.1 billion and a 44.5% acceleration from $281.4 billion in 2020.
The 5 most valuable exports from Vietnam are phone devices including smartphones, integrated circuits and microassemblies, television or radio and radar device partners, textile footwear, and miscellaneous furniture. Combined, those products accounted for 37.4% of Vietnam’s overall revenues from exports.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Vietnamese dong depreciated by -3.5% against the US dollar since 2017 but strengthened by a flatlining 0.2% from 2020 to 2021. Vietnam’s weaker local currency compared to 2017 makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Vietnam’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 75.4% of products exported from Vietnam were bought by importers in: United States of America (27.4% of Vietnam’s global total), mainland China (17.4%), Japan (6.8%), South Korea (also 6.8%), Hong Kong (3.7%), Netherlands (2.5%), Germany (2.4%), India (1.9%), United Kingdom (1.8%), Thailand (1.7%), Canada (1.5%) and Taiwan (also 1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 49.8% of Vietnam’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 30.4% was sold to importers in North America. Vietnam shipped another 15.7% worth of goods to Europe.
Tinier percentages went to Latin America (1.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Oceania (1.5%) led by Australia and Africa (1%).
Given Vietnam’s population of 98.3 million people, its total $406.8 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $4,150 for every resident in the Southeast Asian nation. That dollar metric eclipses the average $3,600 per capita for 2020.
Vietnam’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Vietnamese global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Vietnam.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$172.8 billion (42.5% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $33.4 billion (8.2%)
- Footwear: $25.2 billion (6.2%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $19.1 billion (4.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $17.8 billion (4.4%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $15.8 billion (3.9%)
- Iron, steel: $10.1 billion (2.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $7.8 billion (1.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $6.21 billion (1.5%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $6.16 billion (1.5%)
Vietnam’s top 10 exports accounted for 77.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Iron and steel was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 88.8% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was machinery including computers via a 81.2% gain.
Vietnam’s shipments of optical, technical and medical apparatus posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 74.7%.
The lone decliner among Vietnam’s top 10 export categories was unknitted and non-crocheted clothing or accessories, thanks to a 18.7% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, phone system devices including smartphones are Vietnam’s most valuable exported product coming in at 20.3% of the country’s total. In second place were electronic integrated circuits or microassemblies (8%) trailed by television, radio or radar device parts (3.5%), textile footwear (3%), miscellaneous furniture (2.6%), computer parts or accessories (2.4%), computers including optical readers (2%), leather footwear (1.9%), microphones, headphones and amplifiers (1.8%) then seats (also 1.8%) excluding barber or dentist chairs.
Products Generating Biggest Trade Surpluses for Vietnam
Vietnam posted an estimated overall $77.6 billion trade surplus during 2021, up by 285.2% from the $20.1 billion in black ink one year earlier in 2020.
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.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$61.5 billion (Up by 292.7% since 2020)
- Footwear: $23.1 billion (Up by 43.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $16.6 billion (Up by 52%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $16.5 billion (Up by 22.5%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $13.9 billion (Up by 5.8%)
- Machinery including computers: $4.5 billion (Down by -243.9%)
- Fish: $3.7 billion (Down by -11.3%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $3.5 billion (Up by 35.6%)
- Toys, games: $3.4 billion (Up by 31.4%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $3.2 billion (Up by 63.9%)
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.
Products Generating Worst Trade Deficits for Vietnam
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.
- Plastics, plastic articles: -US$11 billion (Up by 2.6% since 2020)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$6.4 billion (Up by 56.2%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$6.3 billion (Down by -38.5%)
- Vehicles: -$4.9 billion (Up by 126.2%)
- Organic chemicals: -$4.8 billion (Up by 48.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$4.4 billion (Down by -9.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$4.1 billion (Down by -9.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$3.5 billion (Up by 5.1%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$3 billion (Down by -1.8%)
- Other chemical goods: -$2.7 billion (Up by 34.4%)
Vietnam has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the plastic materials and items made from plastics product category.
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.
- Danang Rubber Company (rubber)
- DOJI Gold and Gems Group (gold, jewelry)
- FPT Group (information technology)
- Habeco (beer)
- Hoa Phat Group (metals)
- Petrovietnam Gas (petroleum/natural gas)
- Samsung Electronics (electronics)
- Viettel Group (telecommunications)
- Vinamilk (dairy products)
- World Auto (cars, motorcycles)
In macroeconomic terms, Vietnam’s total exported goods represent 35.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($1.134 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 35.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 30.3% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Vietnam’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Vietnam’s average unemployment rate was 2.7% for 2021 down from 3.3% in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Vietnam’s capital is Hanoi, a city nicknamed “Paris of the Orient” and “Paris of the East”.
See also Vietnam’s Top 10 Imports, Vietnam’s Top Trading Partners, Rice Exports by Country and Top Asian Export Countries
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Forbes 2021 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 6, 2022
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International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on June 6, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 6, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 6, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Hanoi. Accessed on June 6, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Vietnam. Accessed on June 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 6, 2022
Wikipedia, Vietnam. Accessed on June 6, 2022