The Economist: Vietnam Summit 2016 was held in HCMC on 3 November 2016.

AusCham was able to secure a number of tickets for our corporate sponsors and a select few members to join this event. For those who were not able to join, below is an Executive Summary prepared by the organisers.

*** Below is an excerpt from the original document.

Since 1990, only China has outpaced Vietnam in economic growth.

One reason for Vietnam’s spectacular record is its successful transition from a centrally planned economy in the 1980s to a market economy today. Another is that Vietnam has capitalised on its competitive advantages: low-cost labour and correspondingly strong agricultural and manufacturing sectors. In this environment, the government’s strong support for free-trade agreements (FTAs)
has helped Vietnam’s exports surge.

But can the country continue to grow in the future as it has in the past?

On November 3rd, The Economist Events gathered more than 300 executives, entrepreneurs, critical thinkers and government
officials at the Vietnam Summit 2016 to debate whether current growth can be sustained in the face of external and internal
challenges, and to ask what is needed for the country to move up the global value chain.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Vietnam is adopting a new growth model. The agricultural and manufacturing sectors employ most of the workforce and constitute the largest portion of Vietnamese exports,  in large part due to low-cost labour. Moving forward, however, a new growth model will rely on higher productivity and quality as Vietnam  tries to move up the global value chain.
  • Education and skills will be crucial. For a country at its level of development, Vietnam scores exceptionally well in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. But as it seeks to diversify its economy and expand into services, there is a great need to upskill the current workforce through vocational training and to enhance the quality of education, especially at the tertiary level.
  • Growth will rely on innovation and technology. Government investment in science and technology R&D could be higher, and efforts are under way to improve this. At the same time, Vietnam is poised to reap the rewards of relatively high internet and smartphone penetration, while advancements in technology use more broadly are leading to growth in domestic demand.
  • Vietnam faces challenges beyond its control. Issues of external origin will likely dominate the Vietnamese agenda for years to come. Geopolitics looms large, mainly in the form of sovereignty and territorial disputes in the South China Sea (in Vietnamese, Bien Dong, “East Sea”). So do questions surrounding commitments to global trade, including whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be ratified. The impact of climate change will also be a significant issue.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit is an advantage. Almost all the largest companies in Vietnam remain state-owned enterprises (SOEs), as privatisation has been slow. Although the Vietnamese mindset is sometimes described as dominated by short-term thinking, it also
    involves abundant entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy, which are advantages that bode well for the country’s future as it seeks to capitalise on global opportunities.

To view the original document in its entirety (above is just an excerpt), please download the pdf version by clicking onto Vietnam Summit_ES_Final.

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