HANOI, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam reported a trade surplus of 4.07 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter of this year, government data released on Wednesday showed.
Exports in the January-March period fell 11.9 percent from a year earlier to 79.17 billion dollars, while imports declined 14.7 percent to 75.1 billion dollars, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said in a statement.
Vietnam's exports and imports lost momentum in the first three months as the country continued to face external headwinds from a slower global recovery and synchronized tightening of monetary policy around the world in response to inflation, which crippled demand from its key markets, the GSO said.
Reflecting faltering world demand, outbound shipments to the United States totaled 20.6 billion dollars in the first quarter, marking a 23.4-percent drop in Vietnam's trade surplus with its largest export market, according to official data.
Smartphones and garments, among the biggest export earners for the Southeast Asian country, posted a decline of 15 percent and 17.4 percent to 13 billion dollars and 7.2 billion dollars, respectively, said the GSO.
A decline in imports, due partly to sluggish domestic consumption, may also indicate a contraction in industrial output as factories cut their purchases of raw material and equipment for production.
Inbound shipments of equipment and components slumped 15.4 percent while imports of electronics and spare parts fell 12.4 percent in the first quarter.
This left a narrower trade surplus of 4.07 billion dollars in January-March, compared to a surplus of 4.4 billion dollars in the December quarter last year.
Vietnam's policymakers have taken measures to shore up economy with the central bank cutting some of its policy rates and lowering the cap on interest rates for short-term loans in priority sectors.
The government has said it will try to keep the growth at 6.5 percent this year, backed by public investment, foreign direct investment, export and domestic consumption.