Vietnam GDP grows at highest rate in five years

Hanoi, December 26

Vietnam’s economy in 2015 grew at its fastest pace in five years, official figures showed today, shaking off regional economic worries with strong exports, record foreign investment and buoyant domestic consumption.

The communist nation recorded a GDP growth rate of 6.68 per cent, easily surpassing the government’s 6.2 per cent target with a figure that looks set to be one of Southeast Asia’s strongest showings for the year.

“This growth rate is very important for the economy in coming years in context of falling world oil prices and instabilities in international financial markets,” Nguyen Bich Lam, director of General Statistics Office, said.

Many Asian economies have been rattled by troubles in China, where world’s second largest economy has suffered with its worst annual growth rates in a quarter of a century.

While regional neighbours like Thailand have suffered, Vietnam has proved resistant to the slowdown of its giant northern neighbour, partly through state intervention.

The State Bank of Vietnam weakened the dong three times this year to spur exports after China depreciated the yuan, dragging exchange rates lower across Asia. Exports rose 8.1 per cent in 12 months through December while imports climbed 12 per cent.

Much of the growth has been fuelled by a flurry of international interest with disbursed foreign investment surging 17.4 per cent compared to last year with a record-high of $14.5 billion. The strong showing is a significant jump on the last two years.

In 2014, Vietnam’s GDP growth was just under six per cent, while that of 2013 was only 5.42 per cent.

Senior Economist Le Dang Doanh told AFP that strong industrial growth also helped boost the economy as well as ‘lower oil prices in world market which has greatly reduced cost of imported raw materials for Vietnam’.

On Wednesday, Vietnam released data showing an annual inflation rate of just 0.63 per cent in 2015, the lowest in 14 years.

Vietnam is now party to the recently sealed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the world’s largest free trade deal between 12 nations, including the US and Japan. As the poorest of the TPP nations, the pact is something of a coup for country’s Communist rulers, who will meet in January for a major gathering of senior officials to choose new leaders and decide the country’s five-year economic plan.

World Bank has said TPP deal could add ‘as much as eight per cent to Vietnam’s GDP ... over the next 20 years’ if it goes ahead.