Vietnam Seeks to Revive Economy after Success in Virus Halt

Vietnam Seeks to Revive Economy after Success in Virus Halt

A subway station construction site takes part of a road in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, on May 28, 2020. After having successfully contained the coronavirus spread with just 327 infections and no fatality, the country is striving for an annual GDP growth of between 4.5-5.0 percent this year, making it one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economies. (Photo by DHA/Ho Binh Minh)

 

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI, May 27 (DHA) – Last Saturday seats on Germany’s Borussia Park stadium were filled with more than 12,000 cardboard cutouts of fans as the first football match of the Bundesliga returned after a two-month suspension, Yahoo Sports reported

In contrast, on the same day some 15,000 Vietnamese football fans gathered in person at a stadium in the northern province of Nam Dinh to watch a match, the first of the national cup in nine weeks, the Vietnam Football Federation said. The crowd filled up only half of the stadium’s capacity to ensure health safety.

The match between Nam Dinh and Hoang Anh Gia Lai cheered by real fans is just one of a series of social events taking place in Vietnam after the Southeast Asian nation has contained the coronavirus spread and begun to revive the economy following a three-week social distancing ending on April 22.

The virus that emerged in China in late December 2019 has spread to 213 countries by May 27, infected nearly 5.7 million people and killed 352,225 of them.

Vietnam, a country of 96 million people and which shares a long border with China, has recorded 327 infected cases but no fatality and no community infection in the last 41 days. More than 80% of the patients have been cured, the government said.

"We have achieved this important result because we have had early and correct awareness, (and thus) having developed suitable and timely policies, with focus on continuous guidance, as well as taking drastic, synchronised and effective actions," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told National Assembly delegates at the May 20 opening session of the country's legislative body.

The government has developed an efficient and effective module to fight the pandemic at a low cost, and it has also won people's support, he said, citing compliments given by international organizations and foreign governments.

Vietnam Seeks to Revive Economy after Success in Virus Halt

A street in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, is packed during the morning rush hour on May 25, 2020. After having successfully contained the coronavirus spread with just 327 infections and no fatality, the country is striving for an annual GDP growth of between 4.5-5.0 percent this year, making it one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economies. (Photo by DHA/Ho Binh Minh)

 

The World Health Organization representative in Vietnam attributed the success to the country's experience in dealing with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and bird flu in subsequent years.

The Washington Post on April 30 cited experts at King’s College London and the University of Bath as saying Vietnam's success could be explained by three key tactics used by the government: temperature screening and testing, targeted lockdowns and constant communication.

 

ECONOMIC RECOVERY

In the post-pandemic growth scenario, Vietnam’s next mission is to shore up the export-dependent economy to achieve a growth of between 4.5-5.0 percent this year, the prime minister told several foreign journalists in Hanoi on May 22.

Earlier in May he said at a government meeting that Vietnam should strive for a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of more than 5 percent in 2020, a target well above forecasts by foreign institutions which track Vietnam.

The country estimated its first quarter’s GDP grew 3.82 percent from a year ago, the slowest quarterly pace since 2009. The International Monetary Fund forecast Vietnam’s 2020 growth at 2.7 percent, slowing from a government estimate of 7.02 percent last year.

Vietnam Seeks to Revive Economy after Success in Virus Halt

Traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, is seen during the morning rush hour on Monday, May 25, 2020. After having successfully contained the coronavirus spread with just 327 infections and no fatality, the country is striving for an annual GDP growth of between 4.5-5.0 percent this year, making it one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economies. (Photo by DHA/Ho Binh Minh)

 

In the post-pandemic scenario, Vietnam’s tourism and aviation, the worst-hit industries, have announced hefty price cuts to raise revenues from domestic travellers, while the country has yet to open borders to foreign tourists.

Vietnam Airlines, the national flag carrier, has yet to resume international flights, but said it was opening five new domestic routes in May alone.

In a longer term, business executives were quoted by Reuters as saying foreign investment was expected to pour in Vietnam, which will extend a trend of factory relocation from China that started last year due to the U.S.-China trade wars.

"After proclaiming success in containing the coronavirus, Vietnam is positioning itself as a safe place to do business, capitalising on demand from international manufacturers looking to diversify their supply chains away from China," said a Reuters report on May 8.

Apple plans to produce millions of its popular AirPods wireless earphones in Vietnam for the first time in the second quarter, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on May 8.

But the foreign investment inflow will not only come from China.

Japanese appliance maker Panasonic will shut down a large factory in Thailand as early as this fall and consolidate production to a Vietnam-based facility for greater efficiency, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on May 21.

Vietnam Seeks to Revive Economy after Success in Virus Halt

A woman rides motorbike past a Panasonic showroom in Hanoi on May 28, 2020. After having successfully contained the coronavirus spread with just 327 infections and no fatality, the country is striving for an annual GDP growth of between 4.5-5.0 percent this year, making it one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economies. (Photo by DHA/Ho Binh Minh)

 

In another push to bolster trade and investment, the Vietnamese government has sought National Assembly approval to ratify during its current sitting two key agreements, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA). The EVFTA is expected to come into force two months after the ratification.

The Asian Development Bank has projected Vietnam's GDP growth this year at 4.8 percent, the highest rate in Southeast Asia. "Vietnam is forecast to be one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, despite the impact of COVID-19," the ADB said in its Asian Development Outlook 2020 report released on April 3.

"After COVID-19, the economy is expected to rebound at a growth rate of 6.8 percent in 2021 with continued strong growth," it added.

 

SPORTS EVENTS RETURN

Given the success in having contained the virus, after easing social distancing rules, millions of children have returned to schools after a long break since January. Public bus system has resumed in major cities, such as in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, since May 4, while domestic transport by train and buses has been increasing frequency from late April.

Following the football match last Saturday, the country's V-League 2020 will begin the qualifying round on June 5.

The return of major sport events has given hope that the VPBank Hanoi Marathon ASEAN 2020 and the Halong Bay Heritage Marathon 2020 will be held on schedule, on October 18 and November 22, respectively.

Vietnam Seeks to Revive Economy after Success in Virus Halt

The marathons in Vietnam, the running course of which have been certified as meeting the standards of the World Athletics Federation (IAAF) and the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), would bring the country to the spotlight after the pandemic has triggered the postponement or cancellation of major marathons in London and Berlin.

(Updated on 28.05.20)

 

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