Development Policy Review

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    Vietnam Development Report 2019: Connecting Vietnam for Growth and Shared Prosperity
    (Hanoi: Hong Duc Publishing, 2019-12) World Bank Group
    Globally, Vietnam is among the most open economies with a trade-to-GDP ratio of 190 percent in 2018. Through the removal of both tariff and non-tariff barriers and fulfilling its commitment in several regional trade agreements, the country has made remarkable achievements in trade liberalization. Vietnam’s major trade partners located in East Asia, North America, and Europe are reached mostly by sea or air. Trade with bordering neighbors is limited and thus trade across border-crossing points is minimal except for northern borders with China, which has seen growth in recent years. The country’s trade flows are concentrated at twelve of its 48 border gates—two airports, five seaports and five border crossing points—which collectively handled 86 percent of total trade value in 2016.1 As the trade grows, congestion at and near these international gateways and border-crossing points has also increased. In addition to the current major trade partners, various regional trade relations and connectivity initiatives are relevant to Vietnam, including with Southeast Asian neighbors, and South Asia—particularly India—over land, given the rapidly growing trade relationships. In the meantime, Vietnam’s transport network has undergone a significant expansion over the past decades. The most remarkable development in network expansion has occurred in the road sector. As of 2016 the total length of the road network, excluding village roads, reached over 300,000 km, including about 1,000 km of expressways—a fully access-controlled toll road system. Vietnam is endowed with an extensive network of natural waterways, including nearly 16,000 km of managed navigable routes carrying significant traffic around the Red River Delta and Mekong Delta areas. However, only about 2,600 km of the waterways can reliably handle barges greater than 300 deadweight tons, with rudimentary terminal infrastructure at most of its numerous river ports. Vietnam's century-old railway system is mostly single-tracked and non-electrified, which has remained unchanged over the past decades with very limited capital investments
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    Vietnam Business : Vietnam Development Report 2006
    (Washington, DC, 2005-11) World Bank
    Business development has been one of the main forces behind rapid poverty reduction in Vietnam. Together with the redistribution of agricultural land, and the broad coverage of social services, it allowed a large fraction of the population to engage in more productive occupations and raise their living standards. But businesses are still struggling with important constraints. Insufficient availability of finance, difficulties in accessing land and continuous gaps in infrastructure services (in spite of enormous investment efforts) are among the most important obstacles identified by entrepreneurs. In a booming labor market, retaining qualified personnel and finding the skills required to move up the ladder are also perceived as barriers to business development. As a result of these constraints, the domestic private sector remains dominated by small enterprises. In between a myriad household businesses and a few thousand large state-owned enterprises (SOES) and foreign companies, there are not many small and medium enterprises, and only a handful of domestic private firms have made it to the top. Sustaining business development in Vietnam requires the completion of the structural reform agenda. Fully developing the land market, restructuring the financial sector, managing state assets in a more efficient and transparent manner, mobilizing resources for infrastructure development, are the key priorities in this respect. Further integration with the world economy, especially through the accession to the World Trade Organization, is bound to lock-in some of these changes, and level the playing field between domestic and foreign enterprises. But there i s also a complementary reform agenda, aimed at leveling the playing field between the domestic private sector and SOEs and mobilizing capital (both public and private) in an efficient way. Global integration and domestic reforms are needed to sustain rapid economic growth while avoiding the accumulation of large contingent liabilities for the government. For Vietnam to become a middle-income country will entail going beyond structural reforms and laying the foundations of a modern market economy, introducing competition and proper regulation in infrastructure services, modernizing tax administration, reforming the legal and judiciary systems, reducing corruption, improving governance at local levels, are all part of a second generation of reforms that need to be put on track for Vietnam to move up to the next phase.