Vietnam eyes 5 pct GDP growth

By Anh Minh, Minh Son   May 8, 2020 | 09:30 pm PT
Vietnam eyes 5 pct GDP growth
Farmers carry a bag of rice in the southern city of Can Tho on March 8, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tran.
Vietnam is targeting GDP growth of 5 percent this year, exceeding international forecasts, banking on a rapid recovery strategy to overcome pandemic impacts.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced the new target at a meeting with business leaders Saturday, adding that the country will also strive to keep inflation under 4 percent, same as previous years.

Leading international organizations have considerably lowered growth forecasts for Vietnam this year. The World Bank estimates a growth of 4.9 percent, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), just 2.7 percent. Vietnam’s GDP growth in the first quarter fell to a 10-year low of 3.82 percent.

However, Phuc noted that the slower growth was still higher than several other countries in Southeast Asia (ASEAN). The Vietnamese government is issuing policies to stimulate a speedy recovery, he said.

"Local businesses need to contribute to the growth so the post-pandemic economy will be V-shaped," said the PM, referring to a sharp economic decline followed by a strong and quick recovery.

The country must avoid other recession shapes like U or W, with the former indicating a prolonged shrinking of the GDP and the latter showing the economy falling into recession twice before recovering.

As elsewhere, the Vietnamese economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with supply chains disrupted by global travel restrictions and local businesses seeing revenues plummet from dwindling demand.

A recent survey of nearly 130,000 businesses by the Ministry of Planning and Investment showed 86 percent negatively impacted by the pandemic, with April revenues dropping an average 30 percent year-on-year.

But as the disease has basically been contained with no community transmissions recorded for 23 days, the government is working on plans to restart the economy and meet an adjusted target of 5 percent GDP growth. The original target was 6.8 percent.

The goal will be met by increasing domestic private investment, foreign direct investment, exports, public funds disbursement and domestic consumption, Phuc said.

There are challenges remaining, but businesses need to overcome them and come up with ideas to improve the market and mend disrupted supply chains, he said.

Authorities need to stop troubling businesses and citizens with red-tapism and administrative procedure hassles, he added.

Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung noted that 88 percent of businesses say the government’s policies for mitigating coronavirus damage are appropriate and timely.

But they still expect stronger efforts from the government, such as simplified administrative procedures, more policy transparency and proper implementation of laws, he said. "These are what businesses want even more than cash support." 

Echoing him, Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that businesses expect the government to untie knots in administrative procedures and increase public investment to improve the economy.

"With these knots untied, the 5 percent GDP growth target will be within reach," Loc said.

For the long term, PM Phuc expressed confidence in Vietnamese businesses and said he want them to make it to the top 500, globally.

"I hope in 25 years Vietnam will have its own Google and Alibaba. Nothing is impossible," Phuc said.

Last year, GDP growth hit 7.02 percent, the second highest growth figure in the last decade, after a record 7.08 percent in 2018.

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