Vietnam insistent in chasing growth with mining despite concerns

By Nguyen Hoai   June 1, 2017 | 07:46 pm PT
Vietnam insistent in chasing growth with mining despite concerns
A Vietnam's offshore oil drilling site. Photo by the Northern Vietnam Helicopter Company
The trade ministry plans to increase oil and gas revenues by 8-10 percent this year.

Vietnam’s government officials on Thursday continued to put forth their plans to pursue economic growth this year with oil and gas mining, playing down warnings from lawmakers.

Officials from the Ministry of Industry and Trade said at a cabinet meeting they will increase the amount of crude oil this year by 8 percent to 13.28 million tons and gas by 10.4 percent to 10.6 billion cubic meters.

This will help add around 0.25 percent of economic growth, they said.

Vietnam’s government set a growth target of 6.7 percent this year. Despite a three-year low of 5.1 percent growth in the first quarter, it is determined to meet the annual target by tapping its oil and gas reserves.

When lawmakers started their summer session in late May, this mining-dependant path was questioned. Some asked that the government choose other alternatives for growth to ensure a sustainable future.

At the Thursday's meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung supported the industry ministry's plan of turning to natural resources for cash.

Dung said the growth target for this year will be “very hard” to reach, but said “it’s not impossible.”

The trade ministry said it will also push for more revenues from titanium and limestone.

Vietnam also resorted to crude oil to boost the economy in 2015, when it recorded its highest GDP growth in five years at 6.7 percent.

But oil failed to work its magic in 2016 amid global price drops. The economy expanded an estimated 6.21 percent last year, its first slowdown in four years, with the mining sector falling 4 percent on low coal and crude oil prices.

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