|Vietnamese players lift the trophy after being crowned champions of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
The year 2018 has been a highlight of Việt Nam’s efforts to realise a number of important objectives set out by the Government such as keeping inflation in check, boosting economic growth and improving national product quality and competitiveness. All these targets were accomplished to the backdrop of an increasingly complex international commerce scene. Key policies issued and implemented by the Government have helped bolster the economy’s ability to adapt and stabilise the macroeconomic environment to further the country’s socio-economic development.
Newly-elected President Nguyễn Phú Trọng was sworn in to take office in October after being approved by the National Assembly. Trọng, who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Việt Nam, will serve as the President for the 2016-21 tenure.
|A PetroVietnam worker carries out maintenance at a facility in Thái Bình Province. Việt Nam achieved robust GDP growth of 6.98 per cent during the first three quarters of the years to meet all this year’s 12 socio-economic development targets. — VNA Photos
The country was able to maintain its growth momentum with a reported Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at 6.98 per cent for the first three quarters of the year, exceeding the target set by the National Assembly (6.7 per cent). The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the whole year was projected to rise less than 4 per cent. Credit growth was at 10.41 per cent (a 12.21 per cent increase compared to the same period last year) with projected growth for the year set at just under 17 per cent. The country’s stock market has shown resilience and growth potential and been classified as a Frontier market, currently on the watch list for a possible reclassification as an emerging market.
Total value of imports and exports for the first three quarters of 2018 reached US$352 billion with an estimated figure for the year set at $475 billion, an 11.7 per cent increase from last year. Việt Nam’s exports accounted for $238 billion (an 11.2 per cent increase from the same period in 2017, well above the target of 7-8 per cent growth). Among those exports, the country has seen a decline in raw materials and an increase in agricultural products and processed goods as well as the emergence of the domestic sector, which grew by 11.7 per cent to outperform the FDI sector (14.6 per cent) against last year’s figures. Healthy growth was observed in domestic market, especially the e-commerce sector, which has maintained a steady 30 per cent growth rate on a yearly average in recent years (73/140 in a WTO ranking and one of the markets with the most growth potential in the region). In addition, the 12 socio-economic development targets set by the NA for the year were met ahead of schedule, creating the foundation for growth in the years to come.
|Tourists explore the myriad of rivers in the Mekong Delta’s Tiền Giang Province.
This year marked an important milestone for Việt Nam’s strategy to focus on bolstering its position in the global commerce stage after the NA approved the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement of Trans-Pacific Partnership on November 11. The trade agreement, one of the most comprehensive and largest trade deals ever signed which consists 11 economies and over 500 million people which account for $10 trillion (15 per cent of the world’s GDP), present opportunities for growth in Việt Nam. Easier access to major markets such as Japan, Australia and Canada are expected to give a strong boost to exports as well as attracting much needed foreign investment in a number of the country’s key sectors.
An unprecedented number of corruption cases were brought to light in 2018, showcasing the determination of the country’s political apparatus in the fight against corruption and to build trust among the people. High-ranking officials and big business tycoons were arrested and charged for wrongdoings and corruption: Ocean Bank’s former chairman Hà Văn Thắm, Việt Nam Construction Bank’s former chairman Phạm Công Danh, former Politburo member and Petro Việt Nam head Đinh La Thăng, central city tycoon Phan Văn Anh Vũ, former police chiefs turned criminals Phan Văn Vĩnh and Nguyễn Thanh Hóa involved in the country’s largest online-gambling ring bust to date were several of the many high-profile cases that went on trial this year.
The year’s high-school entrance exam was marred with scandals as systematic cheating was found in a number of provinces including Sơn La, Hà Giang and Hòa Bình. A police investigation revealed numerous violations and mismanagement committed by local education departments. In some cases, examiners were directly involved in the process of cheating or fabrication of results.
Sea economy and start-up year
A strategy to develop Việt Nam’s sea economy was issued by the 8th meeting of the Party Central Committee with an emphasis on sustainable development and measures to create breakthroughs to realise the country’s objectives of economic development, preserving the maritime environment, protecting its sovereignty rights, and pursuing co-operation and peace in the region.
The Government of Việt Nam continued to support and improve the business environment for start-up enterprises. The country is set to build streamlined policies that encourage the spirit of start-up enterprises and innovation to create even more products and services to take advantage of the technological breakthrough in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
|Inside a cave in the Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark. In April, UNESCO recognised the 3.000 square km park in northern Việt Nam as a global geopark.
Việt Nam remained one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region with 16 million foreign visitors expected to be welcomed in 2018. A 30 per cent year-on-year increase reflected the tourism industry’s efforts to promote the country and its culture, providing quality tourism services and building a name for Việt Nam among international travellers.
The country’s tourism sector still has potential for growth with more of its tangible and intangible heritages being discovered by the world. The Cao Bang Geopark received UNESCO global geopark status in November, making it the second location in the country to receive the accolade. The other is the Dong Van Geopark.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc started a “Vietnamese goods conquer Vietnamese people” campaign in November to gather Vietnamese support for Vietnamese products during an event to introduce three automobile models manufactured by VinGroup, the largest private company in Việt Nam. This year’s campaign follows 10 years of promoting and stimulating consumption of domestic products.
Việt Nam’s first tissue bank opened at the Việt Đức Hospital in Hà Nội in October as the foundation for the country’s tissue research. The establishment of the tissue bank with provide researchers with data and samples and patients with organs and tissues required for transplants without having to leave the country.
|70 members of Việt Nam’s field hospital in a photo taken before leaving for South Sudan to take part in UN peacekeeping missions.
Members of a field hospital arrived in South Sudan for the first UN peacekeeping mission undertaken by Việt Nam in October. The hospital and the Vietnamese staff were evidence of Việt Nam’s commitment to joining peacekeeping missions and global humanitarian activities.
2018 has been a good year for Vietnamese football as well as the country’s fervent fans. The team lifted the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 after beating Malaysia in mid-December. The team were also runners-up at the U23 Asian Cup in January.
Vietnamese footballers, hailed by fans as the golden generation of Vietnamese football, and South Korean coach Park Hang-seo were given full praise from regional and international media for their steady progress. — VNS