Rail Freight Analysis: Vietnam & its Key Trading Partners (2024 Update)

Vietnam has an important railway connection with China. This connection allows the country to reach major international markets – such as CIS countries and Europe. Since then, Vietnam has witnessed significant changes in its rail freight volume with these markets.

Covering data from 2022 to 2023, we provide valuable insights into the rail freight sector of Vietnam including:

  • Commodities exchanged 
  • Key origin and destination countries
  • Emerging market trends

Dive deep into our analysis below, or download the full analysis (PDF version) here.

Key Findings on Vietnam International Rail Freight

The analysis reveals a notable decline in rail freight volume between Vietnam and its three main partners – China, CIS countries, and Europe – from 2022 to 2023. This trend impacted both imports and exports:

  • Imports: Saw the most significant drop, with volumes decreasing by a staggering 45% compared to the previous year.
  • Exports: Also declined, though to a lesser extent, with a decrease of around 38%.

Interestingly, Vietnam’s rail trade with CIS countries remained relatively stable. This might be due to sanctions imposed on Russia, prompting them to strengthen trade ties with partners like Vietnam.

It is noteworthy that Vietnam’s overall economy and international trade volume continue to rise. The distribution of goods across different transportation modes naturally fluctuates based on market needs and shifting prices.

Trustana - Rail Export Volume from Vietnam to China, CIS, EU countries in 2022 and 2023
Rail Export Volume from Vietnam to China, CIS, and EU countries in 2022 & 2023
Rail Freight Volume from Vietnam to CIS countries in 2022 - 2023
Rail Export Volume from Vietnam to CIS countries in 2022 & 2023

Vietnam Rail Exports by Destination

The main market for Vietnamese exports by rail freight was undoubtedly China, with a crushing share of 84% of the total volume.

16% of Vietnamese exports headed to CIS countries, primarily Kazakhstan and Russia.

Only a small share of around 4% of Vietnamese exports reached Europe.

Vietnam Rail Exports by Commodity

With different destinations come different types of commodities.

Bulk cargo dominated exports to China, including chemicals, metals, and minerals. Meanwhile, foodstuffs like fruits, coffee, and sugar were the main exports to Russia.

Exports to Europe were mainly machinery. The main destination, as data showed, was Poland. With its Malaswicze station bordering Belarus, the country was the main port of entry for goods from Asia into the European Union’s single market.

Export Volume to EU by major destinations in 2022 & 2023
Rail Export Volume from Vietnam to EU countries by Major Destinations in 2022 & 2023

Vietnam Rail Imports by Origin

More than 99% of Vietnamese imports by rail were from China, the East Asian behemoth. Meanwhile, a negligible volume of vehicles and machinery were imported from Russia and Europe to Vietnam.

Vietnam Rail Imports by Commodity

The composition of imported commodities from China to Vietnam was diverse, from fertilizers to plastics and iron. Notably, imports of these commodities from China saw the most dramatic decline, dropping by 75% between 2022 and 2023.

Top commodities imported from China (2022 - 2023)
Import Rail Freight by Top Commodities from China to Vietnam in 2022 & 2023

The recent decline in Vietnam’s rail freight volume highlights the dynamic nature of the logistics industry.

While the reasons for this decline need further investigation (global events, infrastructure limitations, alternative shipping routes), Vietnam’s rail freight sector holds immense potential.

Explore our full analysis here, and do feel free to contact us for international rail freight to and from Vietnam.