Vietnam’s coal imports soared by over 50% over the same period in 2019 while exports continued to decline, increasing the trade deficit that was already large.
According to statistics of the General Department of Customs on imports and exports in the first 6 months of 2020, Vietnam imported nearly 31 million tons of coal with the total turnover of more than USD2.2 billion. As compared to the same period in 2019, the volume of imported coal surged sharply to more than 10 million tons, equivalent to an increase of 50.9%; meanwhile, the import turnover only rose by about USD263 million, equivalent to an increase of more than 13%. The growth rate of output is larger than that of turnover, which means that the average value of each ton of imported coal this year is lower than the same period last year.
Specifically, the average value in the first 6 months of 2020 was just about 72 USD/ton, down about 23 USD/ton (equivalent to more than 30% decrease in value) compared to the same period in 2019 when the value reached 95 USD/ton. As regards to this situation, domestic enterprises in the coal industry need to take actions to improve both the capacity and quality of the exploited and processed coal in order to be able to compete with the imported coal that is priced lower and lower.
On the other hand, in the first 6 months of 2020, Vietnam’s coal exported to foreign markets decreased by nearly 4% in volume and approximately 12.8% in turnover over the same period in 2019, reaching 386,082 tons, equivalent to USD53.8 million. Vietnam just started importing coal in 2013, but only two years later, the volume of coal imports soared dramatically; since 2015, the country has always been a coal importer. In 2019, the output of imported coal reached more than 43.7 million tons, 38 times the volume of exported coal that was estimated at 1.1 million tons. The average output of imported coal in 2019 was about 3.6 million tons/month while the average output in the first 6 months of 2020 was about 5.1 million tons/month. Thus, it is very likely that the volume of coal imported in 2020 may exceed the estimated output, reaching roughly 62 million tons. Previously, in 2019, with more than 43.7 million tons of imported coal, the imports output into Vietnam increased by 91.5% compared to 2018 when coal imports was more than 22.8 million tons.
Currently, the three largest import markets of Vietnam’s coal are Australia, Indonesia and Russia. These are also the three leading coal suppliers of Vietnam in 2019.
According to data from the General Department of Customs, by the end of June 2020, Australia surpassed Indonesia to become the largest coal supplier to Vietnam with an output of more than 10.8 million tons, total turnover of nearly USD 935 million, up 3.77 million tons and USD140 million in turnover over the same period last year.
Indonesia was the next biggest supplier of coal to Vietnam. From the beginning of the year to the end of June, Vietnam imported 9.8 million tons of coal from Indonesia, total turnover of about USD 482 million. As compared to the same period last year, the coal output rose by more than 2.5 million tons while the turnover only increased by about USD 22 million.
Ranked third in terms of coal supply to Vietnam was Russia. Coal imported from the Russian market reached nearly 4.35 million tons, total turnover of nearly USD 353 million, representing an increase of more than 671 thousand tons in volume and nearly USD 28 million in turnover.
Japan, Thailand and South Korea are the three leading markets for Vietnam's coal consumption in 2019, in which Japan holds the first position, followed by South Korea and Thailand. However, by the end of June 2020, there was a change in order for the first three positions with Thailand surpassing Korea to become the second largest coal export market of Vietnam after Japan.
In the first 6 months of 2020, coal exports to Japan reached more than 229 thousand tons with the value of nearly USD31 million, an increase of more than 53.8% in volume and more than 38.4% in turnover compared to the same period last year. Coal supplied for the Japanese market alone accounts for more than 59% of the total coal export volume of the country and makes up more than 57% of the total turnover. At the same time, the price of coal exported to Japan decreased by approximately 10% over the same period in 2019, reaching 135.1 USD/ton.
Thailand was Vietnam's second largest coal exports market in the first half of 2020, reaching more than 41 thousand tons, equivalent to USD4.68 million, down 34.3% in volume and 24.4% in turnover over the same period last year.
The Korean market was next on the list with the exports volume of nearly 22 thousand tons, equivalent to USD3 million, down 62.8% in volume and 69.6% in turnover compared to the first 6 months of 2019.
Source: The General Department of Customs