On a recent trip to Vietnam, I was impressed by the country’s progress, growth and people. As I explored this young economic country, there was boundless and infectious energy and entrepreneurial spirit everywhere. A place where it feels like anything is possible.
However, only 30 years ago the country was one of the poorest in the world. I was intrigued by how this small nation had managed to reach its now middle-income status and become a development success story in only a few decades.
According to the World Economic Forum, Vietnam today is one of the stars of the emerging markets universe. Since 2010, its GDP growth has been at least 5% per year, and it’s forecast to be 6.500 % in Dec 2019. It’s economic growth rivals China, and its exports are worth as much as the total value of its GDP. It has attracted companies from Nike sportswear to Samsung smartphones to manufacture goods, establishing it as a hub for foreign investment and manufacturing. By 2017, the Financial Times reported that Vietnam was the largest exporter of clothing in the region and the second largest exporter of electronics (after Singapore).
State-owned enterprises and agriculture, which once dominated the economy, have lost prominence as the country has sought sustainable development through the liberalisation of trade, and domestic reforms to encourage business, including food processing, garment manufacturing, machine-building and mining. There has also been a massive investment in human and physical capital with investments in primary education for its rapidly growing population. Today, it boasts a population of 95 million, half of whom are under 35, which is an increase from 60 million in 1986. All these factors have helped to explain this economic rise and buoyant market of this small ASEAN nation.
Vietnam is also ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, through investment in access to the internet. With a robust IT infrastructure in place, it is well placed to handle the frequent disruptions caused by ongoing technological advances.
From a talent perspective, the sons and daughters of those who left the country after the Vietnam war are returning. Professionals of all ages are creating business by propelling the start-up scene, investing in property, opening restaurants and contributing to the booming real estate market. Qualified talent is also helping overseas firms expand into new Vietnamese markets, and taking on key positions within companies. This is all helping boost Vietnam’s economic prosperity.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018, published by the World Economic Forum, cited Vietnam as the 77th most competitive nation in the world out of 140 countries. Vietnam is also ranked 69th among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings.
It’s a fascinating country and one to watch as it continues to grow in all aspects, changing the lives of its people and overall economic wealth.