It looks like time has come for Vietnam to disentangle from the heavy reliance on China as a trading partner. The recently enacted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, reached after more than five years of negotiations between the member nations, will make Vietnamese goods reach the global market.
TPP is the biggest trade agreement in history aimed at reducing tariffs and setting common trading standards for the 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
According to Vu Huy Hoang, Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade, TPP will enhance Vietnam’s GDP by $23.5 billion in 2020 and $33.5 billion in 2025. In addition, it will boost the country’s exports by $68 billion in 2025.
Currently, TPP member nations represent about 40% of global GDP and 30% of global trade. The deal will open up trading avenues for key export products of Vietnam such as textile, garment, footwear, and seafood in broader market such as the U.S., Japan, and Canada due to their ultra low import tariffs.
So far, Vietnam’s trade balance was heavily biased toward China. In the first nine months of the year, China remained the country's largest trade partner with trade revenues of approximately $50 billion, per Vietnam’s General Statistics Office. However, Vietnam is experiencing weakening demand from China due to its economic slowdown. Therefore, the deal comes at a perfect time (read: Inside The Crash in China ETFs).
The deal is yet to be ratified by lawmakers in member countries. It is expected to easily pass through Vietnam’s legislature due to its favorable impact on the economy.
Vietnam’s economy has already been benefiting from low energy costs and very low inflation. Last month, inflation dipped to zero for the first time ever, as per General Statistics Office. Average price gains were less than 1% in contrast to a five-year average of more than 9% till 2014. Lower energy costs led to a 29% rise in new businesses to 68,347 units in the first nine months of the year.
Inexpensive labor and devaluation of the Vietnamese dong for the third time in a year by the country’s central bank have also been boosting the country’s exports and attracting foreign investments. Bloomberg data showed that the country’s exports went up 9.6% year over year to $120.7 billion in the first nine months of the year. In the same period, pledged foreign investment soared 53.4% while disbursed foreign investment rose 8.4% from year-ago levels.
General Statistics Office estimates revealed that Vietnam’s GDP grew at the fastest pace of 6.3% since 2008 during the first half of the year. The growth is higher than 5.2% in the same period last year and 4.9% in 2013. The government is on track to reach the four-year high GDP growth of 6.2% this year. According to Asian Development Bank, Vietnam is likely to record the fastest growth in 2015 among the five major Southeast Asian countries tracked by the bank. Thanks goes largely to burgeoning private spending, export-led growth and increasing flow of foreign direct investment (read: Asia-Pacific ETFs to Watch on a Surprise Rebound).
Buoyed by the growth potential, World Bank has predicted that Vietnam’s extreme poverty rate (people living under the income level of $1.9 per day) will decrease to only 1% in 2017 from 2.8% in 2012. Moreover, people living under the income level of $3.1 per day are expected to decline to 6.7% in 2017 from 12.3% in 2012.
ETF in Focus
The TPP deal as well as the recent spate of optimistic economic data definitely turns our attention to the sole ETF focused on Vietnam (nearly 80%), Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM - Free Report) . VNM seeks to match the performance and yield of the Market Vectors Vietnam Index, measuring the performance of stocks listed in the Vietnamese stock index which generate at least 50% of their revenues from within the Vietnamese economy (see all Asia-Pacific (Emerging) ETFs here).
The ETF holds 32 stocks, mostly from the financial sector (44%), followed by energy (16.3%) and consumer staples (14%). Its top three holdings include Vincom, Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam and Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial. The fund has amassed $425 million in assets and trades in a volume of 450,000 shares per day. It charges 76 bps in fees and returned about 8% in the last one month (read: ETFs to Watch as Emerging Market Asset Outflow Doubles).
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