In a year full of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has still been developing complicatedly and changing the whole world, Vietnam, as Prof. Carl Thayer at Australia’s University of New South Wales said, has shown its mettle, promoted its stature, and won over trust in the region and the world.
During 2020, the name “Vietnam” has repeatedly appeared on international media outlets and been frequently mentioned by foreign officials, experts, and scholars thanks to its achievements in domestic and external affairs.
With the motto of “leaving no one behind” and highly effective disease containment measures conducted at minimum cost, international experts and media consider the country as a model and an example for others to follow.
Efforts by the Government to realise the twin target of fighting the pandemic and ensuring social security and obtaining the best possible economic growth can make Vietnam “an economic highlight” in a year the global economy fell into the worst recession since World War II.
Many international financial institutions have shared the view that Vietnam, posting a growth rate of 2.91 percent in 2020, is one of the 10 countries with the fastest GDP growth. The Economist listed it among the 16 most successful emerging economies this year.
Prof. Vladimir Mazyrin from the Centre for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, the Russian Academy of Science, called this an extraordinary economic success amid the common recession and crisis, and it will help Vietnam gain a higher position in world rankings in the time ahead.
The Manila Times of the Philippines wrote that: “The only seeming bright spot in Asia is Vietnam, which ably balanced public health and economics right from the onset of the pandemic.”
The Business Times of Singapore and the Reuters news agency noted strict quarantine and tracing measures have helped Vietnam quickly curb outbreaks and recover economic activities faster than many other Asian countries.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Vietnam is one of the two countries, the other is China, sustaining positive economic growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She held that the successful containment of the disease has supported the country to maintain growth momentum in 2020.
In an article titled “Learning from Vietnam on how to handle COVID-19” on Jakarta Post, Indonesia’s senior journalist Veeramalla Anjaiah wrote that: “Vietnam is a dynamic country with so many success stories: Be it economic growth, exports, investments or tourism, you name a sector, there’s a success story. Its latest success story is in the health sector.”
Regarding economy, Vietnam has been ranked among countries recording highest growth worldwide given negative global impacts of the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a strong economic recovery in 2021 for the country, with macroeconomic stability seen in all aspects including growth, current account deficit, and employment. IMF said the economy is diverse enough to withstand the downturn caused by COVID-19 and achieve positive growth.
The UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) projected that Vietnam’s economy will move to the 19th places in the rankings of the World Economic League Table in 2035, overtaking Taiwan (China) and Thailand. It said that the nation’s annual rate of GDP growth is forecast to pick up to an average of 7 percent between 2021 and 2025. Over the subsequent ten years, the economy will expand by 6.6 percent on an annual average.
From other perspective, the UK-based Financial Times said Vietnam is emerging as a prominent link in the global supply chain. Multinationals are looking for building up their supply bases here as a result of the country’s solid record in making products to global standards, and to a widening network of free trade agreements, including recently with the EU and the UK, it said.
Echoing the view, an article on seekingalpha.com said Vietnam has the potential to become a manufacturing destination of the world. The article noted the country is going into demographic dividend era where more than 70 percent of its population will be below 35 years of age. With a population of about 100 million as of 2019, there are only about 13 percent who come under the middle class/income category. This is slated to double by 2025/2026 to 26 percent. This will give a big boost to their consumption story and push growth rates higher from the current 6 percent average. Many companies will want to take advantage of this consumption boom and take a leap to invest further in this economy, it said.
In terms of external relations, Vietnam has recorded outstanding marks in its role as the Chair of ASEAN and of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, as well as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi commended Vietnam’s exemplary chairmanship role by providing strong leadership in keeping the region cohesive and responsive to new challenges, particularly the COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Sputnik news agency of Russia emphasised that the most remarkable feature of ASEAN 2020 was online conferences. Vietnam quickly adapted to the situation, applying cyberspace to organise conferences set in the plan of the ASEAN Chairmanship Year in the online format. This was warmly responded by all ASEAN countries as well as the bloc’s partners. It proved that the COVID-19 pandemic could not break the cohesion of the entire ASEAN.
Hiroyuki Moribe, Director of the Vietnam Economic Research Institute (VERI), said Vietnam successfully accomplished its role as ASEAN Chair 2020 in the context of COVID-19’s impact being beyond imagination. As ASEAN Chair, it assumed the burden of responsibility for leading the bloc in outlining measures to address a wide range of important issues, he said, adding that many countries have lauded Vietnam’s coordination capacity in organising the summit, which involved the participation of powerful nations such as China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
Sharing the same view, Prof. Carl Thayer from the University of New South Wales said Vietnam actively affirmed its strong will and special leadership role in the fields of uniting ASEAN member states together in response to COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, creating consensus on neutral stance and ASEAN’s central role amid competition among major powers, successfully completing negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and consolidating ASEAN’s statement on the East Sea by underlining the importance of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
As a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Vietnam was hailed for reflecting its active, balanced and responsible role, most recently pushing forward the UN’s adoption of the Resolution on the establishment of International Day of Epidemic Preparedness (December 27).
Foreign Minister of Mozambique Verónica Nataniel said Vietnam made active and effective contributions to the UNSC’s operations, including practical initiatives to peace and security in Africa.
Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, Ambassador Philippe Kridelka said Vietnam has raised a strong voice and won trust of the world. He expressed his belief that Vietnam could serve as an effective bridge among nations, thus helping permanent member states such as Russia, the US and China more understand each other.
Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the UN, expressed his belief that Vietnam will continue upholding its contributions in various areas in the UNSC, particularly bringing peace to the Middle East and Africa when Vietnam will undertake the role of UNSC Chair in April 2021 for the second time.
Vice Permanent Representative of France to the UN, Ambassador Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst, for her part, lauded Vietnam for fulfilling its responsibility, including successfully holding an open discussion on the UN Charter and connecting ASEAN with the UNSC.
She described Vietnam as a strong partner in the UNSC and a traditional partner of France in the Francophone community.
Russia’s news agency Sputnik also said Vietnam could be considered a role model in 2020, and the challenges that the country has faced and weathered have illustrated its people’s steadfastness and the clear-sightedness of its leaders