According to Taking Stock, the World Bank’s bi-annual economic report on Vietnam released today, the pace of expansion is forecast to remain at 6.8% this year, higher than the projected figure of 6.3% for emerging markets in the East Asia and the Pacific.
Over the medium term, in line with the global trend, Vietnam will see a slower pace – 6.6 and 6.5% in 2019 and 2020, respectively.Inflation will remain muted at 4% as the result of tightening monetary policies.
“Despite a challenging global context, Vietnam continues to achieve robust growth accompanied by moderate inflation and a relatively stable exchange rate” said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “Policy makers should take advantage of the still favorable growth dynamics to advance structural reforms to enhance private sector driven investment and growth, along with improving efficiency in public sector investment.”
Risks to the outlook have intensified and are titled to the downside, highlights the report. Given its high trade openness and limited fiscal and monetary policy buffers, Vietnam remains susceptible to external volatilities. Escalating global trade tensions could cause a falloff in export demands while tightening global liquidity could reduce capital inflows and foreign investment. Domestically, a slowdown in reforming state-owned enterprise and banking sectors could undermine growth prospects and create public sector liabilities.
“Slower global growth, ongoing trade tensions and heightened financial volatility cloud on the global outlook,” said Sebastian Eckardt, the World Bank Lead Economist for Vietnam. “As an open economy, Vietnam needs to maintain a responsive monetary policy, exchange rate flexibility and low fiscal deficits to enhance its resilience against potential shocks.”
In light of the recently ratified Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), the special section of this Taking Stock edition focuses on streamlining non-tariff measures to help boost Vietnam’s export competitiveness. This timely analytical work is a product of the Second Australia-World Bank Group Strategic Partnership in Vietnam.
The report observes that while tariffs are rapidly declining, the number of non-tariff measures (NTM) is increasing. Vietnam’s average preferential tariffs have fallen from 13.1% in 2003 to 6.3% in 2015.
In contrast, the number of NTMs has increased by more than 20-fold during the same period. International experiences show that poorly designed and implemented NTM could restrict trade, distort prices, and erode national competitiveness.
According to this report’s assessment, the NTM system in Vietnam remains complicated, opaque, and costly, resulting in high cost of compliance. One study estimates that the equivalent tariff rate that sanitary and phytosanitary measures Vietnam are imposing on imported goods is 16.6% compared to the average level of 8.3% for ASEAN countries.
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