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Vietnam’s GDP grows slightly in Q1  (31/03/2009) 
Vietnam posts a gross domestic product growth rate of 3.1% in the year’s first quarter, the lowest quarterly result in as many years, but this still is an encouraging expansion given the global meltdown, the Ministry of Planning and Investment said on Wednesday.

The ministry said in a report on Wednesday that while many key indicators fared poorer in the first quarter, the economy still radiated positive signals amid worsening impacts of the global financial crisis.

The country obtained US$13.5 billion in export earnings in the January-March period, a 2.4% year-on-year increase. However, difficulties are still ahead, as seen in the shrinking export revenue, with US$4.7 billion obtained in March, a drop of 6.5% against February.

Rubber exports during the past months fell by 46% in price while wood and woodworking sector shrank by nearly 30%. Crude oil export rose by over 22% in volume but fell by 45% in price.

Export earnings of foreign-invested companies, excluding crude oil, reached US$4.5 billion during the first three months, falling by 13% year-on-year.

While export growth in the first quarter was on the positive side, imports have been declining faster. The total expenditures on imports in the first quarter was estimated at nearly US$12 billion, a 45% year-on-year decrease, with steel and iron, autos, and equipment falling by between 30% and 71% in values.

While overall export may face further constraints in the months ahead, seafood exports will increase as Russia has reopened its market for Vietnam’s seafood products and 15 local exporters have been approved to enter the Brazilian market.

Vietnam’s seafood exporters may maintain the results of the first quarter if they have favorable conditions, said the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Industrial production value reached VND152 trillion in the first quarter, increasing 2.1% year on year.

* The HCMC economy, seen as the locomotive of the entire national economy, inched up by a mere 4% in the first quarter over the same period of last year to some VND58.5 trillion, or around US$3.3 billion.

Thai Van Re, director of the city’s Department of Planning and Investment, told a meeting on Tuesday that this was the lowest growth rate in the past ten years and the city’s economy is expected to face more challenges in the coming quarters.

Investment also stammers in the city.

Re said that over 4,300 new enterprises were registered for establishment in the quarter with total capital of some VND14 trillion, which fell by 55% compared to the same period of last year. Foreign investment capital in the three months also fell by 76% with total registered capital of US$508 million pledged in 73 new projects.

Export in the first quarter fell 11% against the year-earlier period to US$4.4 billion, while import expenditure dwindled by 30% to US$3.9 billion, according to Re.

Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the city, said at the meeting that the city was trying its best to stimulate the new investment and goods consumption by launching new finance and tax policies to help businesses stabilize production in the coming time.

Quan, however, still expected better economic performance in the rest of the year, adding the city is expected to obtain economic growth of around 6% this year.


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