According to the report, Southeast Asian economies except Viet Nam have seen exports drop in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year while Viet Nam’s exports grew albeit slower than in 2018.
Its economy grew at 6.8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter driven by strong manufacturing, steady services and higher agricultural output.
However, its economic momentum is expected to trend lower due to reduced Chinese demand for goods and rising trade protectionism.
While the escalating US-China trade war could benefit Viet Nam in the short term due to trade diversion, Viet Nam still heavily relies on China, with its exports to that country accounting for around 10 per cent of GDP in 2017.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) and manufacturing are expected to remain big drivers of economic growth. According to the Foreign Investment Agency, FDI disbursed in the first two months of 2019 increased by 9.8 per cent year-on-year to around US$2.6 billion.
Manufacturing received the most attention from foreign investors.
Dang Van Thanh, chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Accountants and Auditors, speaks at a Q&A session during a conference to discuss a report titled Economic Insight: South East Asia by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in HCM City yesterday. – VNS Photo Viet Dung
Viet Nam’s close proximity to China and favourable labour conditions, including affordable wages, would ensure that FDI remains strong in the medium term, with Viet Nam’s improving infrastructure, its accession to trade agreements and FDI attraction policies are also favourable factors.
Mark Billington, ICAEW’s regional director, Greater China and South East Asia, said while Viet Nam’s economy would grow despite the trade war and other external factors that challenge export growth in the region, measures are needed to ensure FDI inflows remain steady.
Structural reforms to improve firms’ ability to do business and adequate education and training to boost production are vital, he added.
The report said Southeast Asian economic growth is expected to be 4.8 per cent this year, down from 5.3 per cent in 2018.
In the first five months of this year, exports increased by 19.8 per cent while imports increased by 23.6 per cent, Dang Van Thanh, chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Accountants and Auditors, said.
Viet Nam faces several problems such as slow institutional transformation, low value addition in processing, low labour productivity, and limitations in education. — VNS