Key Facts: Vietnam

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Hanoi

Population: 86,116,560 (July 2008 est.)

Religions: Buddhist 9.3%, Catholic 6.7%, Hoa Hao 1.5%, Cao Dai 1.1%, Protestant 0.5%, Muslim 0.1%, none 80.8% (1999 census).

Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and South China Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia.

Government: Communist state. Chief of state: President Nguyen Minh Triet (since June 27, 2006); Head of government: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (since June 27, 2006).

Economy: Vietnam is a densely-populated, developing country that in the last 30 years has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy. Since 2001, Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and international integration. They have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive export-driven industries.

Vietnam’s membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and enforcement of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in December 2001 have led to even more rapid changes in Vietnam’s trade and economic regime. Vietnam’s exports to the U.S. increased 900% from 2001 to 2007. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007 after a decadelong negotiation process. WTO membership has provided Vietnam an anchor to the global market and reinforced the domestic economic reform process. Among other benefits, accession allows Vietnam to take advantage of the phaseout of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which eliminated quotas on textiles and clothing for WTO partners on Jan. 1, 2005. Agriculture’s share of economic output has continued to shrink from about 25% in 2000 to less than 20% in 2008. Deep poverty has declined significantly and is now smaller than that of China, India and the Philippines. Vietnam is working to create jobs to meet the challenge of a labor force that is growing by more than 1.5 million people every year. The global financial crisis, however, will constrain Vietnam’s ability to create jobs and further reduce poverty. As global growth sharply drops in 2009, Vietnam’s exportoriented economy - exports were 68% of GDP in 2007 - will suffer from lower exports, higher unemployment and corporate bankruptcies, and decreased foreign investment. Real GDP growth for 2009 could fall between 4% and 5%. Inflation, which reached nearly 25% in 2008, will likely moderate to single digits in 2009.

GDP per capita: $2,900 (2008 est.); Inflation: 24.5% (2008 est.); unemployment 4.9% (2008 est.)

Currency: Dong (VND). 17,480 dong equals 1 U.S. dollar (March 19, 2009).

Exports: $63.73 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.): crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes.

Imports: $79.37 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.): Machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles.

Major crops/agricultural products: Paddy rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugarcane, peanuts, bananas; poultry, fish, seafood.

Agriculture: 19% of GDP and 55.6% of the labor force.

Internet: Code. .vn; 84,151 (2008) hosts and 17.87 million (2007) users

Source: CIA World Factbook