Vietnam economic growth quickens on investment, manufacturing

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Vietnam’s economic growth quickened in the fourth quarter helped by rising industrial output and record-high foreign investment.
Gross domestic product rose 7.01 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, quickening from a revised 6.87 percent gain in the three months through September, according to data released by the General Statistics Office in Hanoi on Saturday. In 2015, the economy grew 6.68 percent, beating the government’s 6.2 percent target. That compares with a median estimate of 6.6 percent in a Bloomberg survey.
Vietnam’s economic growth “has gained momentum gradually and is now being supported both by exports of foreign-invested enterprises and domestic demand,” Jonathan Dunn, the International Monetary Fund’s resident representative in Vietnam said in a statement released December 5 in Hanoi.
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. Vietnam’s economic growth in 2015 may be the fastest among six major Southeast Asian countries tracked by the Asian Development Bank, the ADB said in a recent report.
  • Exports rose 8.1 percent in the 12 months through December from a year earlier to $162.4 billion, with 71 percent coming from foreign companies
  • Exports miss government target of 10% growth for 2015 "due to dropping commodities prices in global markets": Le Thi Minh Thuy, head of the GSO’s trade department
  • Imports climbed 12 percent from a year earlier for the same period
  • People shop in the frozen foods section at a Fivimart supermarket in Hanoi December 26, 2015. Photo: Reuters.
  • December trade deficit was $300 million, from $263 million surplus in November
  • Credit growth at 17.2% as of Dec 21 vs start-2015, according to central bank data released December 24
  • Bank lending may rise 18% at end-2015 compared to year earlier
  • Retail sales gained 9.5 percent in January-December from year earlier
  • Industrial production jumped 9.8 percent in same period from year earlier
  • Manufacturing rose 10.6 percent in same period from year earlier
  • Disbursed foreign investment surged 17.4 percent to a record-high of $14.5 billion in January-December from a year earlier, and pledged foreign investment climbed 12.5 percent
 
The central bank weakened the dong’s reference rate by 1 percent in August, and widened the currency’s trading band. The country is also benefiting from cheaper energy costs as a low inflation rate aids domestic demand.
The government will focus on steps to bolster businesses, particularly the private sector, as part of its attempt to increase the country’s productivity in 2016-2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said December 5. Vietnam’s legislature last month passed a 2016 GDP target of 6.7 percent. The economy will face challenges in 2016 include falling global oil prices and rising pressure on the dong, said Nguyen Bich Lam, head of General Statistics Office, speaking at at a briefing in Hanoi on Saturday.

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