The Last Asian Tiger, by Ronald Moreau

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Given its strategic location on the sea lanes between India, China and Japan, its large and young population, and its strong Confucian work ethic, Vietnam has long been a tiger economy in waiting. But only now, 30 years after the communist North defeated the U.S.-supported Saigon regime, is the country beginning to grab hold of its vast potential. Thanks to a series of doi moi (renovation) reforms, Vietnam has been the world’s second fastest-growing economy since 2000, trailing only China, with an average annual growth rate of 7.5 percent. The country’s economic output has doubled in the past decade?and over the next five years Hanoi aims to double the country’s per capita income, from $500 to $1,000. Vietnam’s performance has largely been export-driven; exports rose to nearly $25 billion in 2004, a jump of nearly 12 percent over the previous year. The economic spurt has had tangible social benefits: infant-mortality rates have dropped below those in China and Thailand, and the percentage of Vietnamese living in abject poverty has plummeted from about 50 percent in the early 1990s to less than 20 percent of the country’s 80 million people today.
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Source: Newsweek International