Vietnam Country Guide


Economic reconstruction of the reunited Vietnam proved difficult. After the failures of the state-run economy started to become apparent, the country launched a program of doi moi (reforms) in 1986, introducing elements of capitalism through a "socialist-oriented market economy". The policy proved highly successful, with Vietnam recording near 10% growth yearly, except for a brief interruption during the Asian economic crisis of 1997.
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Today, Vietnam's economy is much stronger than neighbouring Cambodia and Laos. In practical terms, you'll find rampant capitalism at the "retail" level, with shopkeepers and sellers from carts exercising great flexibility in pricing and how they do business. As businesses go up the levels, permissions to operate (e.g, where they do business) and government controls quickly take over. There are extreme restrictions on foreigners owning property or attempting to sell and foreign businesses are done via local partnerships with all the attendant risks. Furthermore, it is very difficult to do business without negotiating "fees".

Market in Ho Chi Minh City by Shoestring

For much of Vietnam's history, the country was predominantly an agriculture based nation. Today, Vietnam is the third largest oil producer in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, manufacturing as well as information technology and high-tech industries form a large and growing part of the Vietnamese economy. Tourism is another important sector, receiving 7 million foreign visitors in 2012. However, power and services is a problem in the country. There are often "rolling blackouts" when there is not enough electricity at times. For this reason, many shops have their own portable electricity generators.

Market in Hanoi by Dragfyre

As a result of economic reforms, deep poverty has declined significantly with improving living standards. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), unemployment in Vietnam was less than 5% in 2012. In the same year, Vietnam's GDP was estimated at USD320 billion with a GDP per capita of USD3,545, ahead of Cambodia and Laos but a third of Thailand's. However, a PricewaterhouseCoopers 2005 forecast predicts Vietnam's economy to be among the fastest-growing emerging economies by 2025. Goldman Sachs 2005 forecast, predicts the Vietnamese economy will become the world's 17th-largest by 2025.

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