Top 10 Vietnam Imports to the U.S.
With a growing economy and strong manufacturing base, Vietnam is a valuable trade partner for U.S. businesses in a variety of industries. Importing from Vietnam can allow U.S. businesses to expand their product offerings with high-quality goods or increase their inventory volume with cost-effective products to boost their profits. And with the help of a Vietnam freight forwarder, shipping from Vietnam to the USA can be efficient and straightforward.
Read on for an overview of the top imports from Vietnam and other essential tips for importing from Vietnam to the U.S.
Common Industries That Import to the U.S. From Vietnam
The U.S. is currently Vietnam’s second-largest export partner, accounting for 17.7% of Vietnam’s global exports in 2017, with a total value of $45.6 billion. China is Vietnam’s top export partner, importing $49.1 billion in goods and services from Vietnam in 2017 and accounting for 19% of all Vietnamese exports. Vietnam’s third-largest export partner in 2017 was Japan. With a total value of $17.2 billion, Japanese imports from Vietnam were less than half the value of U.S. imports from Vietnam.
The United States imports Vietnamese goods and products across a range of industries — from agriculture to textiles to machinery. The top U.S. imports from Vietnam are electric machinery and equipment, apparel and footwear, furniture, industrial machinery, fruits and nuts, leather goods, fish and iron and steel.
Electric machinery and equipment is currently the top export from Vietnam to the U.S. and is also Vietnam’s No. 1 export worldwide. Imports of electric machinery and equipment accounted for 24% of U.S. imports from Vietnam and 37.6% of Vietnam’s global exports in 2017. Electric equipment and machinery has also shown the most rapid growth among Vietnam’s primary exports to the U.S., increasing from $2 billion in 2013 to more than $11 billion in 2018 — a five-year increase of nearly 463%.1
Knit apparel and accessories are the second-largest U.S. import from Vietnam and have only recently gotten surpassed as the No. 1 import in 2015, when imports of electric machinery and equipment nearly doubled from $3.7 billion in 2014 to $8.3 billion in 2015. Knit apparel has shown a steady increase over the last five years, from $4.7 billion in 2013 to $7.2 billion in 2018. When combined with exports of woven clothing, total apparel and accessories imports account for 24.8% of all U.S. imports from Vietnam.1Many popular U.S. fashion brands have manufacturing bases in Vietnam, including Nike, Under Armour and Lacoste.
The footwear industry in Vietnam also shows promise for growth and opportunity for U.S. importers. Although China is still the leading exporter of footwear worldwide, Vietnam has gained momentum as a global footwear manufacturer and has attracted several well-known brands over the past few years. Popular sneaker brands Adidas and Nike have begun shifting their manufacturing from China to Vietnam, with Vietnam supplying 44% of Adidas footwear by volume in 2017 and China supplying just 19%. U.S. footwear importers can benefit from low-cost manufacturing in Vietnam.
In the agriculture industry, Vietnam exports primarily nuts, coffee, rice, fish and crustaceans. Vietnam is the leading exporter of cashews worldwide, accounting for 32.7% of global cashew exports in 2017 with a value of $2.8 billion. The U.S. was the largest importer of cashews from Vietnam with a total value of $1.1 billion. The U.S. also imported more fish from Vietnam than any other country, accounting for 17.1% of all Vietnamese fish exports.
Vietnam’s diverse economy and the recent boom in electronics production have positioned the Southeastern Asian country for economic growth in the coming years. The Vietnamese economy is projected to grow by at least 6% annually through 2027, ranking it as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. As industries in Vietnam continue to expand, so do the trade opportunities for U.S. importers.
Top 10 Imports From Vietnam
In 2018, Vietnam was the 12th-largest supplier of imported goods to the U.S., with a total value of $49.2 billion. The U.S. was Vietnam’s No. 1 export partner from 2002 until 2017, when China surpassed it.
These are the top 10 imports from Vietnam to the U.S. based on the latest trade data from the International Trade Administration. All products below fall into categories based on their two- or four-digit HS Code.
1. Electric Machinery and Equipment
The U.S. imported $11 billion in electric machinery and equipment (HS Code 85) from Vietnam in 2018, accounting for 22.4% of all U.S. imports from Vietnam.1 The top imported products were:
- Telephones (HS Code 8517) at 58.3%
- Electronic integrated circuits (HS Code 8542) at 12.5%
- Insulated wire (HS Code 8544) at 6%
- Semiconductors (HS Code 8541) at 3.6%
- Transmission apparatuses for radio, telephone and television (HS Code 8525) at 3.5%2
As Vietnam continues to diversify into more complex segments of the electronics sector, U.S. businesses can benefit from improved product quality and affordable prices for imported electronic goods.
2. Knit and Crochet Apparel and Accessories
In 2017, 53.1% of global Vietnamese exports of knit apparel and accessories were to the United States. The U.S. remains the top importer of Vietnamese-made knit clothing, with U.S. imports of knit and crochet apparel totaling $7.2 billion in 2018 and $1.8 billion for quarter one (Q1) 2019. The most popular products were sweaters, pullovers and sweatshirts (HS Code 6110) at 32.8%, and women’s suits and ensembles (HS Code 6104) at 23.2%.3
Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of footwear (HS Code 64) worldwide and accounted for 12.9% of global footwear exports and 21.3% of U.S. imported footwear in 2017. In 2018, the U.S. imported $6.2 billion in footwear, with 46.6% being textile footwear (HS Code 6404) and 33.7% being leather footwear (HS Code 6403).4
Footwear companies that import from Vietnam can enjoy low manufacturing and labor costs to increase their profit margins.
Furniture (HS Code 94) imports accounted for 10.3% of total U.S. imports from Vietnam in 2018, with a value of $5.1 billion. In Q1 2019, the U.S. imported $1.5 billion in furniture.1 U.S. furniture companies typically send design specifications to Vietnamese furniture manufacturers who then build and export the goods. Indoor wooden furniture is a popular import from Vietnam and is affordable and well-made.
5. Woven Apparel and Accessories
U.S. imports from Vietnam of apparel and accessories that are not knit and not crochet (HS Code 62) totaled $5 billion in 2018 and $1.4 billion for Q1 2019. Women’s and men’s suits were the top imported products, accounting for 27.8% and 18.1% of all woven apparel imports, respectively.5
6. Industrial Machinery
Industrial machinery accounted for 5.7% of all U.S. imports from Vietnam in 2018 with a total value of $2.8 billion. Imported machinery from Vietnam included a wide range of products for both home and factory use. The top U.S. imports of industrial machinery from Vietnam were:
- Printers and copiers (HS Code 8443) at 36.9%
- Computers (HS Code 8471) at 30%
- Washing machines (HS Code 8450) at 9.6%
- Appliances for thermostatically controlled valves (HS Code 8481) at 5.7%
- Sewing machines (HS Code 8452) at 4.1%6
As with electric machinery and equipment, Vietnam is continuing to produce and export more complex and diversified industrial machinery.
7. Edible Fruit and Nuts
Fruit and nut (HS Code 08) imports from Vietnam totaled $1.3 billion in 2018 and $201.7 billion for Q1 2019. Cashews, coconuts and Brazil nuts made up an overwhelming majority, accounting for 96.5% of U.S. imports of fruit and nuts from Vietnam with a value of $1.2 billion. Fresh fruit followed at $20 million, and frozen fruit and nuts at $19.6 million.7
8. Articles of Leather
In 2018, the U.S. imported $1.1 billion in leather articles (HS Code 42) from Vietnam, with the top import being leather trucks and cases (HS Code 4202) at 92.8%. These items include handbags, wallets, leather cases for jewelry, suitcases, briefcases and more. The second most popular leather import was leather apparel (HS Code 4203), including leather gloves and belts.8 Vietnam produces custom-made leather pieces that are popular among U.S. consumers for their stylish designs and high-quality construction.
9. Fish and Crustaceans
With 2,140 miles of coastline along the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam boasts a thriving fishing industry. U.S. fish and crustacean (HS Code 03) imports from Vietnam totaled $1 billion in 2018, with 68.8% being fish fillets and 25.8% being crustaceans.9 Shrimp were the most commonly imported crustaceans, followed by crab.
10. Iron and Steel
Iron and steel (HS Code 72) imports from Vietnam to the U.S. totaled $722.6 million in 2018 and $134.9 million for Q1 2019. The top two imports were clad flat-rolled iron and nonalloy steel (HS Code 7210) at 59.3% and not clad flat-rolled iron and nonalloy steel (HS Code 7209) at 24%.10 By importing resources like iron and steel, U.S. manufacturers can increase their production capacity and boost their profits.
Air or Ocean Freight From Vietnam: What to Consider
Importing from Vietnam allows U.S. businesses to benefit from lower manufacturing costs for a range of high-quality products. However, to make the most of trade opportunities with Vietnam, U.S. importers must also determine the most efficient and cost-effective method for shipping their goods from Vietnam to the U.S.
In 2018, imported and exported goods shipped by ocean freight between Vietnam and the U.S. accounted for 99.1% of all traded products by tonnage. Air freight accounted for just under 0.9% of U.S. traded goods with Vietnam by tonnage. By value, ocean freight accounted for 77% and air freight accounted for 22% of all traded goods.
The primary reason many U.S. businesses choose ocean freight for trading with Vietnam is likely the lower shipping costs. Ocean freight shipping to Vietnam is typically less expensive than air freight, especially for larger and heavier shipments.
However, shipping from Vietnam to the U.S. by ocean freight takes significantly longer than shipping goods via air freight. While shipping goods by air may take only a few weeks, shipping via ocean freight may take several months. For imported or exported products where expedient shipping is necessary, air freight may be the better choice. Air freight may also be an affordable option for lightweight products and smaller shipments.
Top Trading Port for Vietnam Shipments
After choosing ocean or air freight for business shipping with Vietnam, U.S. importers and exporters must then select the right U.S. trading port depending on their business location and type of goods they are trading. Shipping times and costs will also vary based on the chosen trading port.
The Port of Los Angeles is currently the top trading port for all freight shipping to and from Vietnam. In 2018, $19.4 billion in Vietnamese traded goods moved through the Port of Los Angeles, accounting for 33% of U.S. goods exchanged with Vietnam by value and 23% by tonnage. In Q1 2019, the Port of Los Angeles processed $5.3 billion in Vietnamese imports and exports via ocean freight.
The second largest U.S. port for shipping to and from Vietnam is the Port of Long Beach, which accounted for 7.2% of Vietnamese traded goods by value and 9.2% by tonnage. Together, the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach accounted for more than 50% of all ocean freight traded with Vietnam by value.
Of all U.S. air freight shipments with Vietnam in 2018, Los Angeles International Airport processed 21% of all traded goods by tonnage. Chicago O’Hare International Airport was the second-largest port for Vietnamese air freight by tonnage, accounting for 20% of all traded goods. By value, Chicago O’Hare International Airport accounted for 27% of all Vietnamese traded goods at a value of $3.5 billion.
Using a Freight Forwarder for Vietnam Imports and Exports
When importing or exporting from Vietnam to the U.S., companies can work with a freight partner to help them determine the best option for business shipping to Vietnam. A trusted freight forwarder, like Universal Cargo, will know the best trade routes and most reliable carriers to move your cargo across the globe as quickly and affordably as possible. They can also manage the logistics of choosing the right air or ocean port and arranging cost-effective ground transportation to your facility.
Freight forwarders also keep up the latest trade restrictions and regulations to keep your freight and your business in compliance with local laws both in the U.S. and in the country you are trading with. While trade between the U.S. and Vietnam faces few hurdles, U.S. importers may need to acquire licenses and permits when trading certain products, such as edible goods like nuts and fish and wooden products like furniture. U.S. exporters may also face some trade barriers with Vietnam, such as inefficiency and red tape in customs clearance processes.
Your Vietnam freight forwarder will stay on top of trade documentation and licensing so you don’t have to. They will even communicate with customs officials on your behalf to move your freight through customs smoothly. When you work with a trusted freight partner, Vietnam-to-United States shipping becomes streamlined and simplified.
Universal Cargo is a trusted freight forwarding company that is conveniently headquartered in Los Angeles to manage all your Vietnam-to-United States shipping. With representation in all major U.S. and international ports, Universal Cargo can provide safe, affordable and efficient international shipping for all of your Vietnamese imports and exports.
As a full-service freight forwarder, Universal Cargo offers both ocean freight and air freight, as well as express air freight for even faster shipping to the U.S. from Vietnam — or from anywhere else in the world. Our other freight forwarding services include warehousing, cargo insurance, trucking delivery services and more. If your business needs fast and cost-effective freight shipping from Vietnam to the U.S., choose Universal Cargo as your freight forwarding partner. Contact us to learn more about importing from Vietnam with Universal Cargo.