Vietnamese businesses have proved that they are tough enough to survive the economic crisis but they need to be strong in the long term in order to restructure the economy.
Tran Du Lich, former head of Ho Chi Minh City Economics Institute, said only after the ââ‚¬Å“stormy yearââ‚¬ of 2009 did Vietnam firms show their ability to survive in harsh conditions.
The National Assembly member is right. Fears that many businesses would go bankrupt in 2009 were proven wrong. Everything was alright by the end of the year and the firms have started the New Year with confidence.
During the first quarter last year, many manufacturers struggled to maintain performance as there were few orders from overseas and their products were stockpiled. Many bosses cut their staff while some tried to keep their workers by exporting goods at a discount.
Export volumes in 2009 were higher than that of 2008, but their value fell, especially among agriculture products.
Cashew exports rose 7.2 percent in volume but dropped 6.8 percent in value, and corresponding figures for coffee was 10.2 percent and 19 percent, for rice, 25.4 percent and 8 percent, and rubber, 10 percent and 25 percent.
Having export volumes rise during the economic crisis was an achievement. And to export cheaply in order to save the business is a good move in the short term.
But in the long term, that move shouldnââ‚¬â„¢t become necessary, as Vietnam aims to rely on exports to spur growth.
We should stop exporting raw material. We must diversify our overseas markets and develop strategic exports.
Our work to reconstruct the economy should include businesses, especially in the small and medium sector. To survive bad times is good but it is not everything. Domestic firms should prepare for the long haul, and ensure they will not be found wanting.
By Nguyen Tran Tam