The General Department of Customs said cars accounted for the vast majority of them, 27,422 units, up 778 percent over the same period last year.
The massive growth in imports indicates the market is bouncing back from the lows of 12 months ago when a government decree set tough conditions.
To import, Decree 116, which came into force in January 2018, requires dealers to provide vehicle registration certificates issued by authorities in the countries of origin.
Economist and former head of the Ministry of Finance’s Price and Market Research Institute, Ngo Tri Long, said the decree also has strict regulations related to testing and vehicle type approval from exporting countries, thus increasing the effort and time required for import and delivery.
By the first quarter of this year, most foreign importers had obtained the papers to meet the import conditions.
Discounts and other promotions that dealers offered by the end of the first quarter as the market became awash with cars is another reason behind the robust sales.
Since March cars like Toyota Fortuner, Honda CR-V and Toyota Wigo come with gifts and discounts.
Thailand is Vietnam’s biggest seller, accounting for 25,954 units. Indonesia was second with 9,503. Imports from these two countries are tax-free under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).
According to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA), domestically assembled car sales increase by 160 percent compared to February and 54 precent over the same period in 2018.
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