USA: Vietnam’s Top Import Destination in 2023

Vietnam's exports to the US hit a staggering $97 billion in 2023, making it the country's most significant export market.

The United States is the largest importer of Vietnamese goods in 2023.

According to preliminary statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, Vietnam’s exports to the US reached USD 97 billion in 2023, a 12.4% decrease compared to the previous year. However, the USA remains Vietnam’s largest export market.

In 2023, Vietnam exported 12 commodity groups to the US market with a turnover of USD 1 billion or more. The leading groups were machinery, equipment, tools, and spare parts with a value of USD 18.2 billion, followed by computers, electronic products, and components with USD 17 billion. Textiles and garments ranked third with USD 14.47 billion.

In contrast, Vietnam’s imports from the US in 2023 amounted to USD 13.82 billion, a decrease of nearly USD 700 million compared to 2022. As a result, the total import-export turnover between the two countries reached nearly USD 111 billion, making it the third consecutive year that Vietnam-US trade has exceeded USD 100 billion. The US is Vietnam’s second-largest trading partner to reach this milestone, after China.

Dr. Le Dang Doanh, a senior economic expert, commented that the trade relations between Vietnam and the US have been upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development since October 2023. This has opened the door for Vietnamese products to enter the US market, as long as the Vietnamese government has specific policies to support and Vietnamese businesses proactively implement them.

According to Doanh, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) has issued a draft amendment to strengthen the enforcement of trade defense measures in the Anti-dumping and Anti-subsidy Law (Tariff Act 1930 of the US). This move has collected opinions from relevant parties and poses a challenge for Vietnamese businesses.

Dr. Le Quoc Phuong, former Deputy Director of the Center for Industry and Trade Information (Ministry of Industry and Trade), stated that inflation in the US market is expected to be under control in 2024. The US, being rich in oil and gas resources, is likely to recover better compared to the EU.

Despite these advantages, exporting goods to the US market still faces challenges. The US has implemented several trade protection policies to safeguard the interests of domestic businesses, especially when Vietnamese products gain market share and compete strongly with US goods. Non-tariff barriers can restrict market access and increase costs for Vietnamese businesses, thus reducing the competitiveness of Vietnamese goods.

Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Import-Export Department (Ministry of Industry and Trade), mentioned that in 2024, the global and domestic economy will have several positive factors for import and export activities. The US Federal Reserve (FED) has signaled a possible reduction in interest rates, which can benefit Vietnamese goods exported to the US market. Additionally, the issue of high inventories in the United States and other markets is gradually being resolved. However, import-export activities in 2024 still carry risks and uncertainties. The trend of trade protectionism is on the rise, with many countries implementing measures to bring investments back to their respective countries and erect trade barriers to safeguard and promote domestic production. Developed markets, focusing on sustainable development, could impact some of Vietnam’s key export products. Recent tensions in the Red Sea have also led to changing shipping routes, resulting in increased time and costs for import-export businesses.

To support export businesses in general, and those targeting the US market in particular, Tran Thanh Hai emphasized that the Import-Export Department will continue supporting businesses to leverage the commitments in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to boost exports. This will involve raising awareness about rules of origin and issuing Certificates of Origin. The department will also provide market information through digital platforms for localities, industry associations, and businesses. Additionally, the Import-Export Department will support the development and implementation of large-scale, regionally linked trade promotion activities for products and industries with regional strengths in target markets. The department will also prioritize negotiations, signing of new agreements, commitments, and trade links, as well as strategize action programs on import and export, develop logistics services, explore rice export markets, and provide support to businesses in overcoming new trade barriers in import markets.

Hai Dang