Dr Tran Thi Hong Minh, Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management
What was the driving force for Vietnam to achieve the growth rate of 2.91 percent in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
There were two basic factors helping Vietnam achieve the GDP growth rate of 2.91 percent in 2020. Yet, this rate was the lowest in the country’s five-year plan from 2016-2020. However, in the context of the pandemic, this growth rate is a remarkable achievement.
First, it is attributed to Vietnam’s success in the fight the pandemic and the Government’s role.
When the first coronavirus case was detected on January 23 last year, Vietnam took various measures with the goal of stopping transmission of the virus to the whole country.
The National Steering Committee against the COVID-19 pandemic was established with the involvement of the whole political system with strong support from the general public.
With experiences learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, we applied the “social distancing” practice. Such a decision helped Vietnam reduce considerable negative impacts on business/production activities.
Social distancing has also become a driving force for the enterprise community to look for better ways to do business in the pandemic environment.
In addition, many Government policies, particularly policies on infrastructure, human resources and FDI attraction, have made Vietnam an attractive investment place to many foreign investors. These factors also offer a good opportunity for many Vietnamese enterprises to expand their operations.
Last but not least, many Vietnamese enterprises have done their best to expand their export activities through the free trade agreements Vietnam signed with other foreign countries, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).
The National Assembly has approved the set target of economic growth of 6 percent. Do you have any recommendations to help fulfill that target?
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop complicatedly across the globe and Vietnam with an open economy will be affected much. Although the development of COVID-19 vaccines has made many progresses but mass inoculation is unlikely to be done in 2021.
In that context, in order to fulfil the set target of the National Assembly, it requires greater determination of the whole political system.
There are some policies that the Government should pay attention to in the coming time, including keeping close watch over related developments such as COVID-19, US-China trade tension and technology changes in order to have proper consideration and updates for domestic management scenarios.
Additionally, it is necessary to strengthen the stabilisation of the macroeconomy, creating trust with the business community to overcome challenges together and head towards recovering the economy, and create more favourable conditions for investors.
Others include speeding up public investment, supporting businesses to overcome difficulties, complete fundamental policies relating to infrastructure, human resources and business connection to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) more effectively and tap investment flows moved to Vietnam; and particularly, developing the domestic market to create more opportunities for the business community and strongly developing new economic models such as the sharing economy and the night-time economy to create more "weight" for the domestic market.
It is also essential to continue seeking more opportunities from export by improving capacity to exploit Free Trade Agreements and to diversify both export markets and products.
Has the Central Institute for Economic Management developed any scenarios on the national economic development in 2021?
I think that if we only focus on measures to fight COVID-19 and restore the national economy, we’ll have to wait until the end of June this year to make an assessment on whether Vietnam will be able to achieve the growth rate of 6 percent for 2021 or not.
However, if Vietnam continues with its efforts in the fight against COVID-19 while restoring its economic development and the Government continues to reform the country’s business environment and promotes competitiveness in the international market, I’m pretty sure Vietnam will achieve all its economic development goals.
With its rich experiences in the course of national economic reform – even in the current COVID pandemic and the Washington-Beijing trade war, I’m confident Vietnam will continue to move forward and gain many more successes in the year 2021./.VNA
The 13th National Party Congress has set a new direction for the country’s development for the next 10 years.