Vietnam Customs predicts that the country’s export earnings from Africa would increase by 20 percent to US$3.12 billion this year. In January, the total shipment of commodities to the southern continent already earned US$62.9 million, including telephones and components (US$34.3 million), footwear (US$8.1 million), cashew nuts (US$261.4 million), and coffee (US$1.436 million). For instance, Senegal’s imports from Vietnam earned US$2.93 million including rice (US$1.39 million), garments and textiles (US$161,300) and means of transport and components (US$195.400) while Algeria’s imports reached US$18.9 million, including rice (US$4 million) and coffee (US$9.9 million). Despite a moderate growth of trade exchange between Vietnam and Africa in recent years, Africa remains a potential market for exporters.
The International Monetary Fund predicts that Africa would achieve its growth rate of 5-6 percent this year and have at least 17 representatives out of 20 countries maintaining high growth rates in the 2013-2017 periods, such as Libya, Guinea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.
A United Nations forecast says Africa’s population would rise to 1.2 billion by 2050. The average income in the continent is now over US$3,000 per year, although there remains a wide disparity in some countries. This is one of the most important factors which have greatly contributed to the growing demand for imported goods. According to the Trade Promotion Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Africa accounted for 3.1 percent of total global imports in 2011. South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria have been Vietnam’s leading African markets which spend US$55 billion on importing goods each year respectively.
Vietnam’s exports to Africa have annually increased by 20 percent, earning around US$2.6 billion last year. Its major markets include Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Mozambique and Morocco which import mostly rice, coffee, pepper, seafood, computers, electronics and components, telephones, means of transport and components, machinery and equipment, garments and textiles, and footwear. Among these, Vietnamese rice is much appreciated. In the 2011-2013 periods, Africa is estimated to consume around 24-24.5 million tonnes of rice per year, including 10 million tonnes of imported rice.
Last year, Vietnam earned US$900 million from rice exports to 32 African nations, up 22 percent from the previous year, and US$264 million from telephones and components, up 104.7 percent, mostly from South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Angola, and Tunisia. Other export items included computers and components, seafood, coffee, garments and textiles.
Africa is a major producer of cashew nuts, from which Vietnamese businesses expect to import a large volume of raw cashew nuts to reprocess for export to the US and EU.
They also have a plan afoot to buy cotton from 21 African nations, mostly from Mali, Togo, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Benin and Senegal.
Under a project to promote import-export activities in the 2011-2015 period, the State has been urged to provide stronger support for small and medium-sized enterprises to gain a firm foothold in some key African markets.