Hanoi: Vietnam’s economy grew 7.7% in the first quarter compared to the same three-month period in 2006, the Government Statistics Office (GSO) reported in an early estimate on 28 March.
It was the highest figure for the first quarter since 2001 and came after Vietnam’s January 11 entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) which is expected to boost both exports and foreign investment.
Last year, communist Vietnam’s economy expanded 8.2%, one of the world’s fastest rates after China. Industry and construction drove the first quarter growth at 9.3%, services expanded 7.8%, and agriculture, forestry and aquaculture grew 2.3%.
Foreign investment reached $2.41 bn (10, 845 crore) from January 1 to March 22, with 189 new projects, mostly in the industry and construction sectors.
South Korea topped the list of foreign investors in Vietnam with 50 projects worth $485.5 mn(Rs584.75 crore), followed by Singapore, Thailand, US and Japan.
Vietnam expects economic growth of 8.2 to 8.5% this year, which would be in line with a revised forecast of 8.3%, according to a statement issued byAsian Development Bank (ADB).
ADB’s country director Ayumi Konishi said Vietnam, after joining WTO, passing a 2006-2010 economic plan and attracting record foreign investment, had “entered a new phase of economic development.”
He also warned that “Vietnam must accelerate reforms in its economic and public administration systems” for equitization of state-owned enterprises, financial sector reforms, simplification of public administration for greater efficiency, transparency and accountability and improvement in infrastructure would be necessary if Vietnam has to be more efficient and competitive.”
ADB said Vietnam, after a decade of average economic growth of 7.3% had reduced poverty from 58% in 1993 to 18% last year among a rural population of 84 mn.
The GSO said in its report that “the lives of most farmers remained stable and saw some improvement” in the past three months, despite seasonal price increases, natural disasters and epidemics hitting agricultural production.
But it said about 935,000 people in remote and poor areas like mountainous northwest and central coastal and central highland areas still lacked sufficient food and essential products in the three-month period.