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Air of positivity at Vietnam Economic Conference 2018

Released at: 14:15, 22/03/2018

Air of positivity at Vietnam Economic Conference 2018

Dr. Vu Dinh Hoe, VET Deputy Editor-in-Chief speaks at the conference (Photo: Viet Tuan)

Faith, motivation, hope, direction, opportunity and breakthroughs among concepts expressed by local experts at recent VET conference.

by Huyen Thanh

The last economic crisis was in 2009, so ten years on, in 2019, could there be problems once again, Dr. Vu Viet Ngoan, Head of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Group, wondered aloud at the Vietnam Economic Conference 2018 held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 20 with the theme “Breakthrough Opportunity for Business Growth”.

This was the 10th annual economic conference organized by Vietnam Economic Times, attended by members of the Economic Advisory Group and officials from ministries and business and other economic experts.

Moderating a discussion on breakthrough economic policies, Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), asked speakers for a suitable phrase to use when talking about Vietnam’s economy in 2017. “Hope for direction” was the reply from Dr. Tran Du Lich, Member of the Economic Advisory Group. “When studying Vietnam’s economy from 2001 to 2015, economic growth in those five years was worse than last year,” he said. “2017 gave new hope to go higher.”

“The government has created confidence for investors,” was Dr. Ngoan’s response. Confidence among domestic investors was positive last year and will be consolidated this year, he believes.

“Breakthroughs” was the single word selected by Mr. Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Import-Export Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. “2017 was a year of breakthroughs because both the government and companies changed dramatically,” he said. “The government is determined to take effective measures to support businesses, while for businesses, 2017 was a year of spectacular achievements, especially in imports and exports.”

Faith, motivation, hope and direction, opportunities and breakthroughs were the words Dr. Loc repeated after all speakers had responded. The opportunities are now greater, but the question, he believes, is how to utilize them.

Opportunities in 2018

A regular at the Vietnam Economic Conference over the years, Dr. Lich said that in the past it focused on making Vietnam’s economy “less worse” but now focuses on making it better.

According to Dr. Ngoan, the global economy will move more dynamically this year than last year. Japan, after two decades of stagnation, has shown signs of growth again over the last two years. Many economists have previously fretted about a “debt ball” in China, but the country’s GDP growth in 2017 was over 6.5 per cent.

For Vietnam, he agreed there are many good opportunities: the trade balance is probably in surplus and the pressure on the market is no longer so great. “This year will be more positive than 2017,” he said.

Going into specifics, Dr. Ngoan said inflation may increase at a higher rate this year than in 2017 but will remain within control. Global prices will rise higher than in 2017, but in the low range. The price of crude oil will be around $60; lower than the previous $65. Then there is technology, which will affect price falls and also help keep shale oil prices low. The US has declared it no longer accumulates oil, as previously, and has become an oil exporter.

Growth drivers remain emerging economies. The impact of higher costs in China has been reduced. Technological advancements will help reduce the cost of production. Inflation forecasts for the US and the EU are only around 2 per cent. And Japan is continuing to loosen its policies.

Global commodity prices will continue to affect commodity prices in Vietnam, he said, which may affect controlling inflation. There needs to be greater concern about the medium term, especially 2019, with many forecasting a struggling global economy. “It’s been ten years since the crisis in 2009, and we must prepare for the medium term,” Dr. Ngoan said. Though Dr. Loc is optimistic about 2018, he added that prudence remains necessary.

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