Vietnam's economy makes positive changes in 2000

Ha Noi, Dec. 14 (VNA) -- Positive changes in the Vietnamese economy have been exemplified in the reversal of the downward economic trend. The GDP growth rate in 2000 is expected to reach 6.7 percent as compared to 4.8 percent in 1999.

Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Xuan Gia discussed the Vietnamese economy at the private sector forum held in Ha Noi on December 13.

He said: "In the general growth of the economy, it is notable that the agricultural sector, despite tremendous losses caused by natural calamities, will still post a relatively high growth rate, expected to be 4.9 percent. Industry has seen the most rapid growth of all, at 15.5 percent. The growth rate in the production value of services has reached 6 percent. Exports of goods are expected to increase by 21.3 percent in value as compared to the target of only 11-12 percent. The value of imports has increased by 29.1 percent with imports mainly coming in the form of materials as production inputs. Consumer-goods imports have declined by 20 percent and made up only 4 percent of the total import value.

"Foreign invesment has started to show signs of improvement. Registered capital, after a decline of three consecutive years, has increased by 102.1 percent in 2000 as compared to 1999. Capital added to ongoing projects was USD 600 million, raising the combined capital of newly licensed enterprises and additional capital to USD 2.2 billion. The investment capital's structure has also seen important changes. Investment capital in industries made up 67 percent and over 75 percent of the total licensed FDI capital in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Capital disbursed reached USD 1.8 billion (foreign partners' capital alone). The export and import value of these enterprises has increased, reaching USD 3,300 million and USD 4,000 million, an increase of 128 percent and 117 percent respectively as compared to the year 1999. The export value of foreign-invested enterprises accounted for over 23 percent of total exports (excluding that of oil and gas) in the whole country. In 2000 alone, foreign-invested enterprises contributed USD 260 million to the state budget and directly created some 360,000 jobs.

"Market prices have been stable. Exchange rates have been decided in response to supply and demand in the market, but the State has been able to manage their fluctuations. The State budget revenue has been higher than estimates, the budget deficit has not exceeded allowable limits while the international balance of payments has been improved. In general, major balances in the economy have been maintained.

"In the past year, the Vietnamese Government has adopted a series of policies aimed at creating a level playing field that stimulates efficiency and competition, and restores confidence so that enterprises and the people can make more investment and develop long-term production and business.

"The promulgation of Decrees and Decisions by the Government is not only of great significance to the country's socio-economic development but also serves as a breakthrough in administrative reform."

With a view to creating a favourable business environment for both domestic and foreign-invested enterprises, the Vietnamese Government will carry out a series of policies to ensure effective implementation of the revised Law on Foreign Investment, increase investment forms to attract more foreign investment, and equitize a number of foreign-invested enterprises, Minister Gia said.

He said the Government would also lower prices and fees for service goods in order to ensure uniform price levels between domestic and foreign investment, encourage domestic investment activities by settling outstanding problems relating to land for production, credit and taxation, and continue to effectively implement the Enterprise Law and its guidances, are other measures.

Minister Gia pointed to the need to issue regulations on professional practice certificates as from the beginning of next year, upgrade infrastructure facilities and pay attention to training skilled workers, organize regular meetings between business people and State management agencies at all levels and promptly remove obstacles for enterprises.

He also asked for the establishment of a national enterprise information network to give investors access to information on regulations, policies and administrative processes, the acceleration of administrative reforms and the strengthening of State management efficiency.

Minister Gia said that a new decree on enterprise inspection to minimize the overlap in examining enterprises will be issued in the first quarter of next year to create favourable conditions for enterprises to carry out production and business.--VNA