Vietnam traditionally incurs trade deficits with China, South Korea and Taiwan, but China accounts for most of its trade deficit, Mr. Hoang said at an ongoing meeting of the National Assembly, the country's lawmaking body.

Mr. Hoang said Vietnam will likely sign an agreement with China next year to facilitate Vietnam's exports of farm produce to China, adding that Vietnam was also seeking to fight the smuggling of goods from China as a way to reduce the trade deficit.

"With the signing of the agreement and the efforts to curb smuggling, I'm sure that the trade deficit with China will decrease," Mr. Hoang said.

According to government data, Vietnam's trade deficit with China totaled $11.3 billion in the first nine months of the year, although it ran an overall trade surplus of $34 million in the period. Its trade deficit with China came to $13.5 billion in 2011 and $12.46 billion in 2010.

Mr. Hoang also said Vietnam is aiming for a sustainably balanced monetary value of imports and exports by 2020.

He said Vietnam will likely have a trade deficit of less than $1 billion this year, significantly lower than an average annual trade deficit of more than $10 billion in recent years, but it was due to weaker world demand and slow domestic production and therefore "not sustainable."

By Vu Trong Khanh - Dow Jones Newswires - November 11, 2012