Vietnam Q1 growth picks up as virus is contained

Tourists (R) wearing facemasks amid concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus visit the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi on March 8, 2020. Vietnam’s economy continued to expand in the first quarter, thanks to the government’s success in containing coronavirus.

HANOI, Vietnam (AdChoiceTV News) — Vietnam’s economy continued to expand in the first three months of the year, officials said Monday, thanks to the government’s success in containing the worst of the coronavirus.

And while the 4.48 percent rate given by the General Statistics Office was below forecasts in a Bloomberg survey, it was better than the same period last year and the government said it hoped to chalk up annual growth of 6.5% for 2021.

Vietnam has long been one of the best performing economies in Asia and was one of the few in the world to expand last year owing to strict pandemic measures including massive contact tracing and mandatory quarantine. So far it has recorded only around 2,600 infections and 35 deaths among its population of 98 million.

Other Southeast nations were not so lucky, however. In the Philippines, for instance, a renewed surge in infections in Metro Manila as well as four nearby urban areas prompted a return to stringent lockdowns with vaccine rollout severely delayed. The government there is said to revisit growth targets of 6.5-7.5% this year to account for developments that made them harder to achieve. 

For Vietnam, the results showed the country “has realised effectively the double objective of fighting the pandemic while developing its economy”, the statistics office said in a statement, adding that the 6.5% target was a “huge challenge for the government and the people”.

The statistics office said that to remain on target, Vietnam must speed up vaccination efforts, provide business support packages and accelerate public investment projects.

So far, Vietnam has vaccinated more than 45,000 people, mostly medical and frontline workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The health ministry said its first domestically developed vaccine would be ready for use next year.

Reporting by Sean Tyler Chan

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