CNBC: Vietnam is likely top-performing Asian economy in 2020

Vietnam is likely the top-performing Asian economy in 2020 — a feat that was achieved without a single quarter of economic contraction at a time when many economies globally were weighed down by the coronavirus pandemic.
January 30, 2021 | 08:16
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Shipping containers at a port in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Shutterstock/Igor Grochev.

Vietnam is likely the top-performing Asian economy in 2020 — a feat that was achieved without a single quarter of economic contraction at a time when many economies globally were weighed down by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an article published on US-based CNBC website on January 28.

The article said not every Asian economy has reported fourth-quarter and full-year economic numbers. But estimates compiled by CNBC from official sources — where available — and institutions such as the International Monetary Fund showed Vietnam outperforming all its regional peers last year.

The Vietnamese economy grew 2.9 percent last year from a year ago, according to government estimates released in late December. That’s better than China’s forecast-beating 2.3 percent growth during the same period.

With this performance, Vietnam has delivered one of the highest growth (rates) in a year where the rest of the world were in deep recessions,” economists from Bank of America Global Research said in a report this month.

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Not every Asian economy has reported fourth-quarter and full-year economic numbers. But estimates compiled by CNBC from official sources — where available — and institutions such as the International Monetary Fund showed Vietnam outperforming all its regional peers last year. Photo: CNBC

The country’s handling of the virus outbreak was internationally hailed as a model for other developing nations to follow, and helped its economy to continue growing throughout 2020.

That strong economic run will likely continue this year, said the Bank of America economists.

The bank forecast the Vietnamese economy growing 9.3 percent in 2021 — a much higher growth rate than the 6.7 percent expansion projected by the World Bank.

Vietnam’s manufacturing sector was widely credited for the economy’s outperformance last year, with production growing on the back of steady export demand. That’s a trend that will persist in the coming years, said economists.

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Vietnam's GDP is expected to grow 2.91 percent this year. Photo: VNA

Considering that Vietnam has been a major beneficiary of the supply chain relocation/diversification trend out of China over the past several years, we see large scope for growth in Vietnamese exports in the years to come,” Fitch Solutions said in a December report.

The Southeast Asian country has also inked several new trade agreements — such as with the U.K. and European Union — which could further boost trade flows, the consultancy added.

Vietnam’s services sector, which was badly hit in the pandemic, picked up toward the end of 2020.

Economists said the extent of the recovery in services — especially in tourism — will determine how quickly Vietnam’s economy will return to its pre-pandemic path.

A 4.48 percent Q4 growth has propelled Vietnam’s annual growth to 2.91 percent for 2020, the General Statistics Office said.

"This is the lowest GDP growth level in the 2011-2020 period. However, given the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is considered a success for Vietnam, with the growth rate among the world’s highest," according to Nguyen Thi Huong, head of the GSO.

The annual growth rate matches an earlier projection by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

In 2019, Vietnam’s GDP growth of 7.02 percent was the second highest growth figure in the last decade, after the record 7.08 percent in 2018.

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