Vietnam was one of the fastest-growing sources of American imports from Asia last quarter, and could potentially overtake the U.K. as a bigger supplier to the U.S. if it keeps up that pace.
Imports from the Southeast Asian economy jumped 40.2% in the first three months of 2019 from a year earlier, while orders from South Korea rose 18.4%, latest U.S. Census Bureau data show. At the same time, American imports of Chinese goods plunged 13.9% as trade tensions heated up.
If Vietnam’s pace of growth can be sustained for a full year -- which would be a major feat -- it could leapfrog Italy, France, the U.K., and India in the ranks of top exporters to the U.S.
India would improve two spots and France by one if they keep growing at the same pace for the rest of the year. Ireland would slip by four, and the U.K. and Italy each would drop two.
Vietnam has become a standout in a region where the world’s export engines largely are hurting amid trade-war tensions and a slowing electronics cycle. Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan all saw export contractions in April, while in the same month Vietnam’s exports gained 7.5% from a year earlier.
Vietnam is benefiting from businesses shifting their supply chains in response to increased American tariffs on Chinese goods. The economy offers low-cost labor and an improving business climate alongside boasting one of the fastest growth rates in the world.
The calculation of a 2019 tally started with the baseline levels of 2018 U.S. imports, using the top 12 economies. First-quarter 2019 growth rates for those economies were extrapolated for the full year to estimate the biggest source countries.
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