Agriculture is the primary occupation of the population, and rice is by far the leading crop. The Mekong and Red river deltas are among the world's greatest rice-growing regions, the former benefiting from heavy rainfall and rich alluvial soil and the latter notable for its elaborate network (c.2,700 mi/4,350 km) of dikes, dams, canals, and locks that provide irrigation and flood control. Peanuts, corn, sweet potatoes, and beans are secondary food crops, and cotton, jute, coffee, tea, and sugarcane are among the cash crops produced. Fishing and aquaculture comprise an important industry, and marine products are a major export, especially shrimp. Rubber is also important. Timber resources are still substantial, particularly in the north, but deforestation resulting from highland resettlement, shifting cultivation and commercial cutting is an increasingly serious problem.
Vietnam's primary export industry is mining. Most of the country's mineral resources are in the north, and Vietnam produces large amounts of coal as well as having sizable deposits of phosphates, manganese, bauxite, chromate, and other metal ores. Substantial offshore petroleum (oil and gas) deposits have been discovered in southern waters, and production is being developed. Vietnam's industrial development was hampered by prolonged war, but under the new economic reform program (Doi Moi), there has been considerable industrial development. Important industries include agricultural processing, machine building, auto assembly, and the manufacture of textiles and apparel, cement, chemical fertilizers, glass, and tires. Many of the large and capital-intensive projects are joint ventures between foreign and Vietnamese local governments. The tourism industry is also significant; over one million foreigners visited Vietnam in 1994. Vietnam's main trading partners are China, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.
Economy - overview :
Vietnam is a densely-populated, developing country that in the last 30 years has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally planned economy. Substantial progress was achieved from 1986 to 1997 in moving forward from an extremely low level of development and significantly reducing poverty. Growth averaged around 9% per year from 1993 to 1997. The 1997 Asian financial crisis highlighted the problems in the Vietnamese economy and temporarily allowed opponents of reform to slow progress towards a market oriented economy. GDP growth of 8.5% in 1997 fell to 6% in 1998 and 5% in 1999. Growth then rose to 7% in 2000-04 even against the background of global recession. Since 2001, however, Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and international integration. They have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. However, equitization of state-owned enterprises and reduction in the proportion of non-performing loans has fallen behind schedule. Vietnam's membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and entry into force of the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade in December 2001 have led to even more rapid changes in Vietnam's trade and economic regime. Vietnam's exports to the US doubled in 2002 and again in 2003. Vietnam is working toward accession to the WTO in 2005. Among other benefits, accession will allow Vietnam to take advantage of the phase out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which eliminated quotas on textiles and clothing for WTO partners on 1 January 2005. Vietnam is working to promote job creation to keep up with the country's high population growth rate. However, in 2004, high levels of inflation prompted Vietnamese authorities to tighten monetary and fiscal policies.
purchasing power parity - $227.2 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate :
7.7% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita :
purchasing power parity - $2,700 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector :
services: 38.1% (2004 est.)
Labour force :
42.98 million (2004 est.)
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