Vietnam’s growth outlook linked to response to new outbreak: WB

Vietnam’s growth prospects will depend on how well and quickly its government will bring the new coronavirus outbreak under control and how quickly international and national vaccinations will proceed, according to the World Bank (WB). The preliminary January goods trade surplus in the country is estimated at $1.1 billion, the lending agency said.

In its Vietnam Macro Monitoring report issued earlier this month, the World Bank said January’s industrial production index jumped by 24.5 per cent year on year, the highest growth rate since the beginning of 2019. Merchandise exports and imports respectively grew 51.8 per cent and 41.8 per cent from the same period last year.

Exports to the US and China continued the robust growth of 2020 while those to the European Union (EU), the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN), Japan and the Republic of Korea bounced back strongly. Similarly, imports from the RoK, ASEAN and the United States joined those from China, Japan and the EU to stay in expansionary territory.

In the first month of 2021, the Vietnamese government spent a total of 99.6 trillion VND, which is 1 per cent higher than a year ago. Public investment reached 15 trillion VND, making the disbursement rate of 3.25 per cent.

However, the bank added, while Vietnam’s economy has been extremely resilient to the COVID-19 crisis, preliminary results from the COVID-19 World Bank high frequency household survey of January show that almost half of households still reported lower household income than the year before. About 9 per cent of households took loans and 15 per cent reduced their consumption.

If persistent, this prudent behaviour will negatively affect aggregate domestic demand in the future, according to the bank.

It held that growth prospects for 2021 will be affected by how well and how quickly the authorities will bring the new outbreak under control and how quickly international and national vaccinations will proceed.

If the crisis lingers, the authorities may consider further monetary and fiscal support. Yet, special attention will have to be given to the fiscal space, the health of the financial sector and possible social effects as lasting loss of income among some households may create new inequalities and tensions, the report noted.


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