HCM City Party chief calls for announcing ‘end’ of Việt Nam pandemic, reviving economy

June 15, 2020 - 16:10
Việt Nam should announce “the end” of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and “develop a roadmap to gradually resume trade relations with 17 partners,” HCM City Party Committee secretary Nguyễn Thiện Nhân has said.
Speakers at a National Assembly meeting on the socio-economic situation in the first half of the year held on Monday in Hà Nội. — Photo courtesy of the National Assembly

HCM CITY — Việt Nam should announce “the end” of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and “develop a roadmap to gradually resume trade relations with 17 partners,” HCM City Party Committee secretary Nguyễn Thiện Nhân has said.

Speaking on Monday at a National Assembly meeting in Hà Nội on the socio-economic situation in the first half, he said Việt Nam has been able to contain the outbreak without any community infection for two months.

“The rate of people infected per million in Việt Nam is very low, only 3.4. No more than one person per million (the current rate is 0.2 people) is being treated. Việt Nam has not reported any deaths due to the outbreak.” 

As soon as the first cases were detected, the country took more precautionary measures than recommended by the World Health Organisation, he pointed out.

Based on these and recent developments in other countries, he suggested that the Government should consider resuming trade with 17 economic partners. 

“These are Việt Nam’s most important partners, accounting for 90 per cent of foreign investment, 80 per cent of international trade and 80 per cent of tourists.”

The country should first develop a specific roadmap to revive trade with 10 partners, which are Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, Australia, and the Virgin Islands (UK), he said.

Other partners include India, the US, Russia, Singapore, the Netherlands, Indonesia, and Malaysia, he said.

“We need to monitor further to see when it is safe to reopen trade relations with these partners because ‘these partners are not completely safe yet’.”

According to official statistics, foreign investment in Việt Nam this year could fall by 30 per cent, tourism by 50 per cent and international trade by 18 per cent, Nhân added. 

Concurring with Nhân, NA deputy Lưu Bình Nhưỡng called on the NA to issue a resolution on economic recovery. “The most important is to revive the economy, which has been seriously impacted in recent months.” 

But Nguyễn Lân Hiếu, another deputy and director of Hà Nội’s Medical University Hospital, warned: “We need to be very careful about [linking up with] foreign economies because the risk of a second wave of infection is still high in many countries. For example, China is now showing signs of a second wave in some localities.”

He added: "It is vital to do more scientific studies to ensure there is no second wave of the infection in Việt Nam.

“Việt Nam also needs a strategy for investment in the healthcare sector to deal with a pandemic.”

According to the Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, the Government can announce the end of an epidemic when there are no new cases for 28 days. But it does not distinguish between imported cases and community transmission cases.

The Ministry of Health reported no new COVID-19 cases on Monday morning, which keeps the country’s total number at 334.

The Government has already lifted almost all restrictions and social distancing measures in the country.

But the country maintains tight control over entry by people, allowing only Vietnamese citizens returning from other countries, foreign experts, high-skilled workers and people holding diplomatic passports and quarantining all of them for 14 days.

The Government has instructed border provinces to prevent illegal immigration.

Like other countries hit by the pandemic, Việt Nam’s economy has suffered significantly due to the outbreak. Its GDP growth fell to 3.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 from 6.8 per cent in the same period a year ago, according to the General Statistics Office. 

In the first three months almost 35,000 businesses went bankrupt, the first time in decades that the number of companies shutting down was higher than newly registering businesses.

The International Monetary Fund has projected the economy to grow at 2.7 per cent this year. — VNS