Vietnam per capita income matches Malaysia’s 20 years ago

By Nguyen Hoai   January 30, 2019 | 05:37 pm PT
Vietnam per capita income matches Malaysia’s 20 years ago
Workers are seen at a construction site in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Vietnam’s recent economic achievements notwithstanding, much effort is needed for it to close the gap with other countries, a minister has said.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said at a conference Wednesday that while Vietnam’s GDP per capita had surged by 27.4 times in the last 30 years to almost $2,590 last year, Malaysia had achieved this figure 20 years ago.

Thailand had done so 15 years ago and Indonesia 10 years ago.

The main limitations of its economy were low labor productivity, economic efficiency and competitiveness, and the country also faced the risk of being stuck in the middle-income trap.

According to the 2018 Vietnam Annual Economic Report, average productivity per worker was VND60.73 million ($2,600) in 2017, lower than that of China, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Currently the country also faced challenges like the U.S.-China trade war, the minister said.

For these reasons, institutional reforms were necessary to achieve a more sustainable economy, he noted.

Macroeconomic stability and high economic growth with innovation in science and technology were imperative.

The private sector had to remain one of the pillars of the economy in future, Dung said. "If Vietnam doesn’t catch the 4.0 train, the gap between it with other countries will become wider. Vietnam needs to narrow that gap."

Vietnam’s GDP has grown at 6.8 percent a year on average for the last 20 years, and the economy has grown 39 fold in the period to $245 billion last year.

Growth last year was 7.08 percent, the highest in a decade.

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