Vietnam: Economic Strategy and Economic Reality

Adam Fforde


The paper examines the nature of the growing Vietnamese economy and its changing structural characteristics and contrasts this with two core elements of official thinking. The first element is the slogan of ‘industrialisation and modernisation’ (IM) and how this sits with the rather fast current growth in the services sectors, given the issues of transitioning through the recently reached ‘middle income status’. The second is that of “a socialist-oriented market economy” (SOME) with reference to its origins, the nature of debates around it and its positive and negative implications for Vietnam’s development. Our basic conclusions are that IM is misplaced, as it ignores services and is out-of-date, and the SOME has largely been a somewhat confused and transparent fig-leaf for support for essentially private commercial interests associated with certain state conglomerates. Recent changes around the 2016 XIIth Congress suggest that lessons are being learned by some elements in the Party.

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