to countryaah, Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing
economies. In 2017, the country's gross domestic product
(GDP) amounted to USD 223.78 billion. In 2017, the World
Bank's list of countries' GDP ranked Vietnam in 40th place.
Of the nine other ASEAN countries, Indonesia, Thailand,
Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines then had a higher
GDP. However, on the World Bank's list of GDP per capita for
2017, Vietnam was in 140th place. Of the nine other ASEAN
countries, only Cambodia and Myanmar had a lower per capita
GDP than Vietnam.
Trends from 1954 to 2005
In 1954, North Vietnam introduced a centralized
Soviet-style planning economy. After the reunification in
1976, this was also partly introduced in the south. In 1986
began a series of market economy reforms under the name Doi
Moi, 'renewal'. Although reforms in many areas have been
small and met with some considerable resistance in the
bureaucracy, the economic results have been formidable. For
example, in just a few years, the country went from being a
major importer of rice to becoming the world's third largest
rice exporter. Annual growth in the economy has been strong.
Since the starting point was very low, the country has been
very poor until the 2000s.
The area around Ho Chi Minh City is the country's most
important economic center, followed by the Hanoi - Hai Phong
area. Also Da Nang is experiencing rapid economic growth. In
the mountainous areas in the north, in the central highlands
and in the coastal areas along the southwest bank of the
Gulf of Tonking, poverty is widespread. Eight percent of the
population lives below the poverty line.
More than half of the labor force was employed in the
primary industries in the period from 1954 to 2005, and
Vietnam was still far from an agricultural community.
However, the industrial sector grew significantly compared
to other poor countries. The service sector was still
relatively weak. In the international context, Vietnam could
traditionally be categorized as an equal society with
relatively even distribution of income. However, signs of
increased income inequality have become clearer after 2005.
Agriculture and fishing
Primary industries contribute 15.3 per cent of GDP and
employ 25.7 per cent of the working population (2017).
The main agricultural products are rice, coffee, rubber,
tea, pepper, cashew nuts, soybeans, peanuts, bananas, corn,
sweet potatoes, cassava, jute, cotton and sugar cane. Rice
is grown on 82 percent of the arable land. 52 percent of
rice production takes place in the Mekong Delta in the south
and 18 percent in the Song Hong Delta (Red River) in the
north. Vietnam is the world's fifth largest producer of rice
after China, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh and the world's
third largest exporter after India and Thailand. The country
is the world's second largest producer and exporter of
coffee after Brazil.
Water buffaloes are widely used as migratory animals.
Otherwise, pigs, poultry, cattle and some goats are kept.
The increase in pork and poultry production has been
particularly strong during the reform years.
39.7 percent of Vietnam is covered by forests, but only
two percent of these are densely populated. Deforestation
has been great due to harvesting, fuel harvesting and land
clearing for agricultural purposes, including coffee
plantations and sweat farming. Authorities have declared
deforestation the biggest challenge since the reunification,
and a forest planting campaign has been launched. Timber is
exported, including to China.
Fish is, after rice, the most important food for the
population. Like agriculture, it also provides important
export revenue, and catches have increased significantly
during the reform years. Both coastal and river fishing, as
well as the breeding of both fresh and saltwater fish. The
fishing fleet consists mostly of smaller boats that can only
fish in coastal waters. As a result, coastal waters have
been affected by overfishing.
Several areas in the highlands were developed during the
reform period for the cultivation of various sales growth.
In the 1950s, after the French colonial power left a large
class of landless peasantry, the North Vietnamese
authorities organized agriculture into cooperatives and
state farms. After Saigon's fall in 1975, the same thing
happened in the south. In the 1980s, the country depended on
importing food, and it was close to the famine disaster in
After reforms were introduced in 1988 that eventually
gave farmers free land to own land, private households have
become the normal form of organization in agriculture.
Cooperatives still exist in several places, most in the
north, while state farms exist only in mountain areas in
border areas. Although many families still suffer from
malnutrition, the country as a whole is self-sufficient in
food. Agricultural products also contribute important export
revenues. Only 20 percent of the total area is cultivable.
Access to land is therefore scarce. In relation to the
population, Vietnam has one of the least available
agricultural areas in the world. The average size per unit
is also among the smallest in the world. The country is
further plagued by floods; especially in the north where
Song Hong (Red River) frequently floods its dikes.
A large-scale reconstruction of rubber plantations
destroyed during the Vietnam War has been carried out with,
among others, Malaysian and Taiwanese assistance.
Mining and energy
Vietnam has some significant deposits of oil, natural
gas, iron ore, bauxite, coal and apatite. Particular
attention is paid to the development of oil and gas
extraction. Crude oil is the country's most important export
product. In East Asia, only China has larger oil reserves
than Vietnam, with reserves amounting to 630 million tonnes.
The most important oil producing fields are Bach Ho (White
Tiger), Rang Dong (Dawn), Hang Ngoc, Dai Hung (Big Bear),
and Su Tu Den (Ruby). Coal mined mainly in the province of
Quang Ninh in the north-east, about 1/3
of the production is exported.
The country has problems producing sufficient electrical
energy. In 2014, production was 141 TWh, distributed between
59 TWh from hydropower plants, 47 TWh from gas power plants
and 35 TWh from coal power plants. Expanded production
capacity was 32 GW. The country still has large untapped
hydropower resources, but the hydropower plants are affected
by a somewhat uneven rainfall.
The industry contributes 33.3 per cent of GDP and employs
40.3 per cent of the working population (2017). The main
industrial products are food, textiles, clothing, footwear,
furniture and other wood products, electrical appliances,
machinery, cement, steel, fertilizers, glass, oil and mobile
Vietnam has been among the world's poorest countries in
terms of GDP per capita, having a relatively well-developed
industry. Several foreign companies have established
motorcycle assembly plants for the domestic market. Assembly
plants for cars and trucks are also growing rapidly, but the
domestic market for these types of vehicles is currently
limited. The production of textiles, clothing and footwear
for export has increased rapidly during the reform period,
but has gradually faced fierce competition in the world
market from Chinese products. The production of furniture
and other wood products and of electrical appliances for
export has also increased significantly since 1986.
With the help of foreign capital, several new modern
steel mills and petroleum refineries have been built. In
2004, the state-owned enterprises, the foreign-owned
enterprises and the private Vietnamese-owned enterprises
each accounted for one-third of the industry's production
value. All of the foreign-owned enterprises in Vietnam are
established after 1988. The three largest foreign investor
countries are Singapore, South Korea and Japan. Since the
authorities introduced new rules in 2000 that made it easier
to register locally owned private companies, the growth of
this type of business has been significant. Main industrial
centers are Ho Chi Minh City, followed by Hanoi and Hai
Phong. A number of smaller cities have specialized in niche
industries such as silk, porcelain and furniture.
Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in
Vietnam's exports amount to USD 214.1 billion (2017),
while imports amount to USD 202.6 billion. With this, the
country has a foreign trade surplus of USD 11.1 billion.
The four main export markets are:
- United States(20.1 percent)
- China (14.5 percent)
- Japan (8.0 percent)
- South Korea (6.8 percent)
The main export products are crude oil, rice, coffee,
rubber, clothing, footwear, electrical products, machinery,
seafood, furniture and other wood products.
The four main import markets are:
- China (25.8 percent)
- South Korea (20.5 percent)
- Japan (7.8 percent)
- Thailand (4.9 percent)
The main import products are machinery and equipment,
petroleum products, steel products, raw materials for the
clothing and footwear industry, electronics, plastics and
Transport and Communications
The road network is at 195 468 kilometers, of which 148
338 kilometers with a fixed tire. Development assistance has
helped to upgrade the main road network, including the
connection between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Motorcycles
are the most common means of transport in Hanoi and Ho Chi
The railway network is at 2600 kilometers (2014), but is
struggling with poor track structure, lack of modern
signaling facilities and old locomotives and wagons. Between
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there is a 1725-kilometer
railway line known as the "reunion express". Hanoi also has
rail links with Hai Phong and China (across Dong Dang and
River traffic along the Mekong and Song Hong (Red River)
with bee rivers is still important for transport. The main
ports are Hai Phong, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. Southeast
of Ho Chi Minh City, there are terminals for both container
and cruise ships.
The main international airports are Tan Son Nhat at Ho
Chi Minh City, followed by Noi Bai at Hanoi. Tan Son Nhat
was the world's busiest airport for a short period during
the Vietnam War. In total, there are 46 airports in Vietnam.