Foreign investment is constricted by red tape and infrastructural problems. A traditional merchandise trade deficit was partially offset by an inflow of foreign money. This inflow, however, made the Vietnamese currency overvalued (some argue by as much as 20–30%) and was seen to be hurting exports by driving up the cost of goods. The 1998 financial crisis reflected the culmination of this overvaluation, which was remedied by 1999 with low import levels, and smaller investment figures. The current account deficit for 2003/04 was expected to widen, due to stronger domestic demand and increased imports of important production inputs. Vietnam is the world's second-largest rice exporter after Thailand. In recent years, Vietnam has received an increase in foreign loans, aid, and direct investment. Vietnam's foreign debt stood at $13.2 billion in 2000.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Vietnam's exports was $15.1 billion while imports totaled $15.3 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $200 million.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that in 2000 Vietnam had exports of goods totaling $14.5 billion and imports totaling $14.1 billion. The services credit totaled $2.7 billion and debit $3.25 billion. The following table summarizes Vietnam's balance of payments as reported by the IMF for 2000 in millions of US dollars.
|Balance on goods||375|
|Balance on services||-550|
|Balance on income||-597|
|Direct investment abroad||…|
|Direct investment in Vietnam||1,298|
|Portfolio investment assets||…|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||…|
|Other investment assets||-2,089|
|Other investment liabilities||475|
|Net Errors and Omissions||-534|
|Reserves and Related Items||-110|