Report: Vietnam emerges as sole economic winner in Southeast Asia during Covid era

A woman wears a protective mask as she drives past a banner promoting prevention against Covid-19 in Hanoi, Vietnam July 31, 2020. — Reuters pic
A woman wears a protective mask as she drives past a banner promoting prevention against Covid-19 in Hanoi, Vietnam July 31, 2020. — Reuters pic

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HANOI, Nov 20 ― Vietnam is shaping up as Southeast Asia's single economic success story in the coronavirus era, maintaining steady positive growth as other economies struggle to recover, reported Vietnam News Agency (VNA) citing Nikkei Asia report yesterday.

Vietnam's real gross domestic product expanded 2.6 per cent on the year in the third quarter, marking a second straight quarter of growth amid the pandemic.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees the country rising to fourth in the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) this year, passing Singapore and Malaysia and gaining on the Philippines.

In contrast to other Asean economies, Vietnam has succeeded in keeping the virus under control. Rising exports have also helped to drive growth, as companies relocate production from China, the newspaper said.

Vietnam’s exports grew 9.9 per cent on the year in October to US$26.7 billion, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade projects a full-year rise of between 3-4 per cent.

According to Nikkei Asia, an ultra-large container ship operated by Maersk docked at Cai Mep Port in late October, the first for southern Vietnam's largest port.

Vietnam's growing exports have boosted shipping demand enough to make it worthwhile for ships bound for Western countries to stop there. This allows for more direct transportation of Vietnamese goods to buyers, which lowers shipping costs, shortens transit time and makes the country more competitive as an exporter.

Vietnam’s achievement in fighting Covid-19 has helped the country reduce the pandemic’s impact on its economy as manufacturing has resumed faster than it did elsewhere in the region, job losses were limited, and consumer spending, which accounts for 70 per cent of GDP, has remained solid.

The IMF's full-year GDP forecast shows a 1.6 per cent rise in Vietnam, but drops of 6 per cent in Singapore and Malaysia and a 7.1 per cent slump in Thailand, it said.

Vietnam's per capita GDP of about US$3,500 remains well below Singapore's US$58,500 and Malaysia's US$10,200. But the pandemic is accelerating a shift in the region's economic pecking order.

Though some Asean countries predict a sharp rebound next year, Vietnam could remain the sole economy to see actual growth into the first half of 2021, depending on how the outbreak progresses, it said. ― Bernama

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