Investments - key to economic growth in Viet Nam: WB expert

Thursday, Jun 15, 2023 08:17

Andrea Coppola, World Bank Lead Economist for Viet Nam.

Andrea Coppola, World Bank Lead Economist for Viet Nam speaks to Vietnam News Agency about his recommendations for the country to speed up economic recovery and development.

How does the World Bank assess Viet Nam’s recent economic performance? What is the forecast for Viet Nam’s economy amid current global and domestic challenges in the second half of 2023 and beyond?

Viet Nam had a very strong economic performance in 2022 driven by three factors: robust exports, strong private consumption and also low base effects given the slower economic growth registered in 2021.

However, during the last part of 2022, Viet Nam’s economy started to face external headwinds. Weakening global demand associated with the monetary tightening that we observed in many countries in 2022 started having an impact on Vietnamese exports.

As a result, economic growth decelerated during the first quarter of 2023 to 3.3 per cent as weaker external demand had an impact on export-oriented manufacturing, which contracted by 0.4 per cent in Q1.

Overall, external headwinds will have an impact on economic growth in Viet Nam in 2023 which is expected to moderate. Our latest projections show the economy growing by 6 per cent in 2023 but there are significant downside risks to the outlook.

How effective have Viet Nam’s measures, such as belt-tightening practices and a 2 per cent VAT reduction, been in addressing economic difficulties? What specific recommendations does the World Bank have to accelerate Viet Nam’s economic recovery and development?

The 2 per cent VAT reduction can help to promote domestic consumption but more measures may be needed to sustain economic growth. Monetary policy has the difficult task of supporting economic activity while controlling inflation and managing exchange rate pressures.

The State Bank of Viet Nam has been cutting policy rates in 2023, which helps to promote economic growth but it will be important during the next months to monitor the possible impact and pressures on capital flows and exchange rate created by the increasing distance between interest rates in Viet Nam and abroad. It will also be important to closely monitor inflation dynamics.

In terms of fiscal policy, an option may be to leverage public investments to promote growth. Despite large investment needs to promote growth and to increase resilience to shocks, public investments in Viet Nam have been decreasing during the last few years. Moreover, there is an issue of under-execution to be addressed and also some question marks about the efficiency of investments.

To promote growth, not only short-term growth but also longer-term growth, more efficient and more significant public investments could be part of the solution.

What is your opinion on the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s emphasis on export, investment, and consumption as drivers of economic growth? How can the World Bank support Viet Nam in achieving its economic objectives?

Export, investment and consumption are the pillars of external and domestic demand, respectively. The performance of each one of these three components of aggregate demand will have a direct impact on Viet Nam’s economic growth.

The challenge with exports is that they are significantly affected by external factors such as the demand from trade partners in the US and Europe. Private consumption is very important, and it was a key driver of growth in 2022.

Investments, in my opinion, are key. They are key not only for economic growth in 2023, 2024, or 2025. They are key to achieving Viet Nam's ambitions to become a high-income economy by 2045 in a context characterised by the challenges associated with climate change.

Investment needs are large. The Country Climate and Development Report that the World Bank prepared for Viet Nam estimates that in order to address climate change adaptation and mitigation challenges, Viet Nam will require additional investments of about 6.8 per cent of GDP per year, each year, between now and 2040.

The World Bank supports Viet Nam in achieving its development objectives through the provision of three kinds of services: first, lending services, to help Viet Nam address its financing needs; second, analytical services, to support Viet Nam to identify effective reforms and technical solutions that can help to address its development challenges in a fast-evolving world; third, convening services, to bring to Viet Nam international expertise and best practices from other countries to promote knowledge exchange and support Viet Nam achieving its economic and development ambitions. — VNS

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