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Investment in innovation fuels growth

Update: May, 27/2014 - 08:19
HCM CITY (VNS) — Viet Nam is seeing positive growth as a knowledge economy as investments from government complement those coming in from international technology firms, according to the latest Economic Insight report released last week by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Capacity is taking off, with economic growth projection hitting 5.8 per cent by 2017, it anticipates.

The report undertakes a quarterly review of Southeast Asian economies, with a focus on the following countries including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam.

Against the backdrop of a recent emerging markets sell-off, potentially rising interest rates luring investors back to the developed world, and a slowdown in China, ASEAN is looking at a challenging year ahead.

Less developed economies such as Viet Nam continue to be dependent on commodities, whilst developing neighbours such as the Philippines and Indonesia are striving to make the transition to an advanced-economy mix of exports.

Two things must happen to allow this progress to higher-value manufacturing; government-led investment in education and skills, and private-sector-led large-scale investment in production.

Mark Billington, regional director of ICAEW South East Asia, said: "Investment in education and skills is key to building a knowledge economy."

He added as a highly educated workforce is put into place, the extent to which Viet Nam's economy will thrive will depend partly on the amount of inflow of foreign direct investment.

Charles Davis, ICAEW economic adviser, said that investment is not just about building plants and creating new capacity, it is necessary that foreign firms setting up new sectors in less-developed economies transfer knowledge and increase the skills of workers so they can produce higher value-added goods and services.

"In the long term, as these economies grow wealthier, foreign direct investments will increasingly be driven by consumption rather than production, as the large populations of Southeast Asia should provide increasing numbers of affluent consumers," he said.

Though Viet Nam's innovation economy activities are likely to fuel growth in the medium term, at present they account for just 1 per cent of national output and do not significantly outstrip the economy's overall growth, which has been rapid. It still has significant growth in the mining sector, suggesting dependence on commodities will continue in the short term, said the report. —VNS

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