Exports in 2011 would rise 10 percent to $74.25 billion and imports would increase 9 percent to $88.8 billion, the online version of the Vietnam Economic Times newspaper said, citing a report by the Planning and Investment Ministry.

The trade deficit this year would be nearly $14 billion, with exports rising 18.2 percent and imports up 16.5 percent, the report said, after a gap of $12.25 billion in 2009.

The International Monetary Fund has forecast Vietnam's exports would grow 16.9 percent next year after rising 14.5 percent in 2010, while imports would increase 14.3 percent in 2011, slowing from an expansion of 16.2 percent projected for this year.

The MPI report to a cabinet meeting projected economic growth of 7-7.5 percent for 2011, average inflation of under 8 percent and a slightly weaker exchange rate of 20,000 dong per dollar, the newspaper reported.

It did not specify the exact timing for the exchange rate and stopped short of saying if the rate was for the unofficial markets or in interbank transactions, which stood at 19,480/19,500 dong at 0359 GMT on Thursday.

The government has projected inflation next year at 7 percent and economic growth would accelerate to 7.5 percent, from an expansion of 6.7 percent expected for this year.

On August 18 the central bank cut the dong exchange rate by around 2 percent against the dollar, saying the move was to help control the trade gap.

The devaluation of the dong reference rate was the third since last November by the State Bank of Vietnam.

Reuters - September 10, 2010