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Virus plunges Vietnam growth to lowest level in decades

·1-min read
Mass coronavirus quarantines, extensive contact-tracing and strict controls on movement have allowed Vietnam to keep factories largely open and get people back to work swiftly

Vietnam on Sunday reported economic growth of 2.91 percent in 2020, the slowest rate in more than 30 years as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic.

The communist state has long been among Asia's fastest-growing economies, and the 2020 figure marked a sharp fall from last year's GDP growth of seven percent.

But Vietnam's performance looks rosy in the context of a global recession triggered by the pandemic, and officials hailed it as a "huge success".

The Hanoi-based General Statistics Office (GSO) said in a statement Sunday that growth for the final quarter was 4.48 percent, contributing to the year-end figure of 2.91 percent.

"In the context of complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic that badly impacts the socio-economic situation, this was a huge success for Vietnam," GSO said in the statement.

While many countries have suffered from high infection and mortality rates, Vietnam -- population 96 million -- has recorded fewer than 1,500 coronavirus cases and only 35 deaths.

Mass quarantines, extensive contact-tracing and strict controls on movement have allowed the country to keep factories largely open and get people back to work swiftly.

The official figures beat the International Monetary Fund's forecast of 2.4 percent growth for Vietnam. The IMF has predicted a global contraction of 4.4 percent.

The World Bank says Vietnam may enjoy more success in 2021.

"Looking ahead, Vietnam's prospects appear positive as the economy is projected to grow by about 6.8 percent in 2021 and thereafter stabilise at around 6.5 percent," the Bank said in a recent report.

tmh/pdw/qan