Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The decade-high GDP growth of 7.38 per cent achieved in the first quarter may not be easy to replicate for the rest of the year. The government, however, will strive towards a year-on-year growth rate of 6.7 per cent.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said this during the monthly government meeting on Monday in Hà Nội. He asked the Cabinet to “contribute constructively” to the 2018 economic growth scenario to achieve this target, which is higher than the 6.5 per cent growth rate set by the National Assembly last year.
The morning session was also amongst the rare ones, with socio-economic affairs, especially the development of growth scenarios, were discussed first instead of the usual law issues.
In his opening speech, Phúc also lauded the growth of several sectors in the first quarter. For example, agriculture and fisheries grew by 4.05 per cent, while construction and industry expanded by 9.77 per cent, nearly double the figures achieved last year.
During the period, total retail and consumption services increased by 9.9 per cent year-on-year. Foreign tourist arrivals in Việt Nam were estimated at 4.2 million, up 30.9 per cent annually.
Total exports surged 22 per cent to US$54.3 billion while social investment soared by 10.4 per cent.
PM Phúc pointed to Nikkei’s report on Monday, evaluating Việt Nam’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) at 51.6 in March. Việt Nam is one of the two countries in Southeast Asia boasting a reading of over 50, albeit a slight drop compared to PMI 53.5 in February.
He also expressed satisfaction with local governments for their efforts in improving business conditions, with the Provincial Competitiveness Index hitting the highest average score since 2005, marking a “widespread enthusiasm in investment and business climate across all localities”.
Phúc said just in the first few months of 2018, Việt Nam officially joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP-11), successfully held the sixth Greater Mekong Sub-region Summit as well as the Cambodia-Laos-Việt Nam (CLV) Development Triangle Area meeting on Saturday, where Việt Nam’s ideas and agenda were highly appreciated by the participating countries, showcasing the country’s international integration efforts and its elevated position in the world.
However, the Prime Minister also drew attention to the weaknesses of the economy, including the fact that newly established enterprises grew by a mere 1.2 per cent in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, accompanied by a number of struggling enterprises and bankrupt or dissolved enterprises.
Despite the low increase of CPI in March and the first quarter in general, PM Phúc urged caution against potential disruptive elements, including increased prices of oil, basic goods and annual wage increase. He also warned of the adverse impacts of the ever-prevalent protectionist moves by many countries.
According to a report of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, by the end of March 2018, the Government’s total revenue reached over VNĐ308 trillion (US$13.49 billion), up 5.3 per cent compared to the first quarter last year, but barely one fourth of the planned revenue.
At the meeting, natural disaster was also in focus as economic damages in the first quarter reached VNĐ178 billion ($7.8 million), thrice the figure from last year. — VNS