Vietnam had a record-breaking year in exports. Naturally, B2B traders from around the world are curious about whether or not the Vietnamese economy will continue to flourish moving forward.
In this article, we will discuss some of the top exporting opportunities for wholesalers and manufacturers in Vietnam. We will make some forecasts for the future of exporting in Vietnam and review some of the factors that are creating new exporting opportunities.
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In the past year, Vietnam has seen tremendous economic growth due to surges in exporting. In August 2022, the nation hit a record-breaking export volume of US $34.9 billion. This figure has nearly quadrupled in the past decade.1
This economy in Vietnam is expected to continue to expand over the next two years as exporting continues to grow. The Vietnamese export industry is expected to finish the year at around US $34.40 billion, then grow to US $40.00 billion in 2023. From there, it is expected to reach US $42.00 USD billion in 2024.2
Although the growth is slowing a bit, we still see upward trends in this forecast. This will continue to present many opportunities for Vietnamese exporters.
There are several elements at play that have led to the growth of exporting in Vietnam. Let’s explore a few of the factors that will create exporting opportunities in the next year.
As we mentioned before, Vietnam’s exporting volume has grown rapidly over the past year, contributing to monumental growth over the past decade. There are many causes of this growth, ranging from political events and shifts in foreign investment to the pandemic and global supply chain issues.
Each piece of the puzzle has come together to position Vietnam as a serious figure in the global economy. In fact, Vietnam has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies in the world. This nation has risen from poverty and has proven to be a key player in global trade in just two short decades.3
Currently, some of Vietnam’s top export destinations include the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands. Last year, Vietnam exported US $96.3 billion worth of goods to the United States and US $56 billion to China.4
In addition to exporting to the United States and China, Vietnam imports a lot of agricultural goods from these two nations. Since the United States and China are such significant figures in the global economy, these trade relationships will likely continue to create opportunities for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam.
Until recently, China was seen as the go-to spot to source manufactured goods. However, some shifts in recent years have encouraged B2B buyers in some countries to see other options.
For the first time in a while, China has begun to face a real competitor in the manufacturing space. Recent export growth in Vietnam has put the nation’s manufacturing industry on the map.5 Several industries in Vietnam have blown up due to their unique ability to serve the needs of recent shifts in global demand.
It may come as a shock that Vietnam is becoming a real competitor to China, considering China is one of Vietnam’s most prominent trade partners. However, Vietnam’s leg up on China in the manufacturing and exporting arena is that the nation can provide lower manufacturing costs.
We will review some specific products and industries that have helped Vietnam establish its status and reputation as a global manufacturing hub later in this article.
Vietnam is part of many free trade agreements (FTAs). If you’re not familiar, FTAs are alliances that enable free trade between two or more nations. These agreements are meant to facilitate importing and exporting to grow the economies of the participants.
The majority of the FTAs that Vietnam participates in are with other Asian countries since Vietnam is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but there are some agreements that extend to South America, Oceania, Europe, and beyond.
Some of the most significant FTAs that Vietnam is part of include6:
As we mentioned above, Vietnam’s top trade partner is the United States. However, it is worth calling out that Vietnam does not have an FTA with the United States.
On January 1, 2022, Vietnam was one of several nations to enter the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).7 RCEP is made up of 16 different countries from around the world and promotes B2B trade with intercontinental connections.
This is an alliance that was instituted to facilitate several free trade agreements to benefit counties in East Asia. The goal behind this is to encourage economic stimulation and improve market access to B2B buyers and sellers in these nations.
Since this partnership is still relatively new, there is tons of potential for growth. Vietnamese exporters should follow the news surrounding the RCEP carefully since new alliances and FTAs that emerge from this partnership will create even more opportunities in new foreign markets.
Although there are several product categories that continue to lead the Vietnamese exporting industry, there are a couple of minor shifts that will create some interesting new opportunities.
With that said, here are a few of the top Vietnamese exports to look out for in 2023.8
Telephones make up the most significant group of exports from Vietnam, claiming 21% of shipped goods.9 With a recent surge, Vietnam has become the second-largest cell phone manufacturer in the world.10
Much of this growth has to do with Samsung’s operations in Vietnam. However, this creates opportunities for other mobile phone manufacturers and wholesalers since the nation has established some leadership and authority as a place to source telephones.
The Vietnamese government has a formal partnership with Samsung that will further the growth of this export industry in the country.11
Textiles are another major export for Vietnam, accounting for 12% of shipped goods.12
Textiles have been a popular export from Vietnam for a long time, and there are currently 6000 textile companies in the country. Vietnam has recently risen above Bangladesh as a top global textile exporter, which is a major feat considering Bangladesh’s authority in this space.13
Computers and electronic devices make up 12% of Vietnam.14 This market share is impressive since Vietnam’s export economy previously focused on agriculture and textiles.15
To many, the transition from simpler products to higher-tech products truly speaks volumes to Vietnam’s capabilities as a manufacturing hub in the global market. It demonstrates sophistication and industrial evolution.
Shoes and footwear make up 7% of Vietnam’s shipped goods.16 This includes textile footwear, rubber footwear, waterproof footwear, shoe parts, and more.17
Footwear is a great exporting industry to get into since shoe demands often fluctuate with fashion trends. When new styles become popular or trendy, new waves of demand come in rapidly, creating an opportunity for manufacturers to fill those arising needs. This is particularly apparent with fast fashion trends.
Machinery is another major export in Vietnam, making up 6% of shipped goods.18 This includes broadcasting equipment, circuit boards, microphones, headphones, office machine parts, and more.19
In the same arena as machinery, Vietnam’s automotive exporting industry is on the rise. The nation is expected to sell as many as 800,000 automobiles by 2025 and 1.85 million automobiles by 2035.20
Vietnam’s pharmaceutical industry is forecasted to more than double by 2026. Last year, the industry was valued at US $7.7 billion, and it is expected to grow to US $16.1 billion in just five years.21
Since the explosion of this industry is relatively new for Vietnam, it doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to serve many global buyers. However, with the speed that other industries have developed in this country, Vietnamese exporters are wise to consider pharmaceuticals as an option for the future.22
This may be an opportunity that takes off beyond 2023, but it is worth considering for those who want to stay at the forefront of Vietnam’s exporting growth.
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