Economy - overview: Vietnam is a densely populated developing country that has been transitioning from the rigidities of a centrally planned, highly agrarian economy since 1986 to a more industrial and market based economy, raising incomes substantially. In 2016 and 2017, Vietnam missed its yearly growth target of 6.7% due to environmental issues – drought and salinization - impacting the agricultural sector, and low oil prices affecting the extractive sector. However, annual GDP growth reached 6.3%, reflecting strengthening domestic demand and strong manufacturing exports.
Vietnam has a young population, stable political system, commitment to sustainable growth, relatively low inflation, stable currency, strong FDI inflows, and strong manufacturing sector. In addition, the country is committed to continuing its global economic integration. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 and concluded several free trade agreements in 2015-16, including the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the Korean Free Trade Agreement, and the Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement.
However, to continue its trajectory of strong economic growth, the government acknowledges the need to spark a �second wave’ of reforms, including reforming state-owned-enterprises, reducing red tape, increasing business sector transparency, reducing the level of non-performing loans in the banking sector, and increasing financial sector transparency. Vietnam has demonstrated a commitment to sustainable growth over the last several years, but a recent slowdown in economic growth could test the government’s resolve.
In 2016, Vietnam cancelled its civilian nuclear energy development program, citing public concerns about safety and the high cost of the program, and is facing growing pressure on energy infrastructure. Overall, the country’s infrastructure fails to meet the needs of an expanding middle class. As the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) chair, Vietnam lead the dialogue on key APEC priorities such as inclusive growth, innovation, food security and climate change.
Definition: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018