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Nikkei Asia: Vietnam may well be Southeast Asia's growth leader in 2021

February 25, 2021 | 14:43

Southeast Asia's growth leader in 2021 may well be Viet Nam and the nation is reportedly targeting a 6.5% growth rate this year, according to Nikkei Asia’s article titled “ASEAN's 2021 GDP forecasts show cautious optimism in Covid shadow”.

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The Vietnamese economy expanded 2.91% in 2020, according to the nation's General Statistics Office.

The country managed 2.9% economic expansion last year thanks to its success in containing the virus-it has reported only about 2,100 cases-along with robust exports of electronics and other consumer products, the Nikkei Asia stressed.

Viet Nam's exports should continue to be supported by U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, the article quoted the report of Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics.

Before the pandemic, Southeast Asia had achieved collective annual growth of about 5% for many years -- making it one of the world's best-performing regions, according to VGP.

It became an attractive investment destination, with a relatively young population driving demand and providing plenty of manufacturing labor. Those advantages remain in play, but first the region needs to stamp out COVID-19.

Earlier at the Government's virtual conference with localities in late December 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that the Government targets to achieve an economic growth of at least 6.5% in 2021 and prepare fundamental factors to accelerate the growth pace from 2022 onward.

According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), such growth rate would make the Vietnamese economy the highest growth in Southeast Asia, with the GDP growth expected to bounce back to 6.1% in 2021.

Meanwhile, in the latest World Bank’s economic update for Viet Nam “Taking Stock”, the nation’s prospects appear positive as the economy is projected to grow by about 6.8% in 2021 and, thereafter, stabilize at around 6.5%.

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With more goods going out of Vietnam, big container ships have begun stopping there directly, cutting transport costs and time for exporters. (Photo: Reuters)

Earlier on November 19, the Japan's prestigious journal also published an article to highly praised Vietnam's dual effort to control COVID-19 pandemic and develop national economy. As stated by the journal, "Vietnam is shaping up as Southeast Asia's single economic success story in the coronavirus era, maintaining steady positive growth as other economies struggle to recover."

Vietnam's real gross domestic product expanded 2.6% on the year in the third quarter, marking a second straight quarter of growth amid the pandemic, which, according to IMF, will bring the country to fourth in nominal GDP in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, passing Singapore and Malaysia and gaining on the Philippines.

Vietnam has reported just 1,300 or so coronavirus cases to date, keeping the economic impact of the outbreak to a minimum. The country imposed a mass lockdown for only three weeks in April, and normal manufacturing activity resumed faster than it did elsewhere in the region. Job losses were limited, and consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of GDP, has remained solid.

Meanwhile, other ASEAN countries have yet to emerge from virus-induced slumps. The IMF's full-year GDP forecast shows a 1.6% rise in Vietnam, but drops of 6% in Singapore and Malaysia and a 7.1% slump in Thailand.

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