Vietnam, one of Asia’s Newly Emerging Economies, has turned its economy around dramatically after several years of macroeconomic instability, stagnation, and isolation from the world economy. With its Soviet style ministerial system and Communist Party leadership, Vietnam is moving from a commodities based economy heavily reliant on ever diminishing supplies of natural resources, through a phase of ‘strategic retreat’, to one of conscious and determined development of uniquely Vietnamese market-oriented ideologies.
In 1986, the Vietnamese government abandoned its Marxist economic policy and implemented “doi moi” (renovation) involving economic structural reforms. These reforms included modernising and liberalising the economy and developing more export driven industries.
Vietnam joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) and became a signatory of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). The US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2001 has brought major changes to Vietnam’s economy and hopes to become a member of the WTO in 2006.
Vietnam’s GDP grew at an average of 7.3% annually in 2000-2004 and reached US$44.5 billion by 2004 and unemployment declined from 6.4% in 2000 to 5.6% in 2004. However, inflation steadily increased reaching 7.8% by 2004 and prompted Vietnam’s government to implement monetary and fiscal controls to manage inflationary pressures.
The manufacturing sector contributed towards 40.1% of Vietnam’s GDP in 2004 while the service sector contributed 38.2%. The agriculture sector contributed towards 38.7% of the country’s GDP in 1990 but declined to 21.8% by 2004.
Major industries include processed foods, garments and shoes, mining (coal and steel) cement, fertilisers, glass, tyres, paper and petroleum. Major agriculture products include rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybean, cashew nuts, peanuts, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas, poultry and seafood.