Asia > South-Eastern Asia > Vietnam > Vietnam’s dong maintained a steady course.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s dong maintained a steady course.


Strong domestic request and record high foreign investment inflows underpinned the continued rapid increase of the Vietnamese economy in 2016.

According to data issued by the Government Statistics Office (GSO), GDP expanded by 6.2% in 2016, just shy of the government’s projection of 6.3% and slightly above the IMF’s estimate of 6.1%.

While this was the initial time in four years that increase had slowed – from 6.7% in 2015 – per capita GDP rose 5% to a new high of $2215.

Farming underperforming

This strong rate of increase came despite weakened returns from the agriculture sector, which saw yields reduced due to adverse climatic events. Drought conditions, the worst in some 30 years, impacted coffee and rice production, while flooding in some regions eroded rice harvests.

Environmental factors, combined with lower commodity prices in some markets, saw agriculture’s increase trimmed to 1.36% for 2016, its lowest since 2011. The major factor at play in the downturn was a decrease in the volume and price of rice exports, which fell by 25.8% and 21.2% to 4.88m tonnes and $2.2bn, respectively.

Credit up, inflation flat

The strong rate of economic expansion was as well reflected in bank lending, with credit increase hitting 21.82% for the year, slightly higher than the estimate of between 18% and 20% from the National Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

If maintained into 2017, high levels of lending could see the SBV move on rates to take some of the heat out of request in the economy. Le Minh Hung, the governor of SBV, reiterated this at the end of December, at the same time as he told local press that the bank could raise its key interest benchmark to keep inflation and economic expansion balanced.

An even economic footing was successfully maintained in 2016, as while GDP increase came in marginally below targeted levels, inflation as well rose at a slower rate than predicted. Vietnam’s consumer price index rose 2.66% in 2016, well down on the 5% increase estimate by the government.

However, pressure may be exerted on the index in 2017, as price rises gained momentum late in the fourth quarter of last year, with December’s consumer price index pushed up by increases in medical and education costs to 4.74% y-o-y, according to GSO data. Despite this jump, the government has projected inflation of 4% for 2017.

One factor helping keep inflation in check was the stability of the local currency, with the dong only depreciating by 1.2% against the dollar throughout the year. Unlike a number of emerging economies, which saw sharp falls in the price of their currency push up the cost of imports,

Vietnam’s dong maintained a steady course.

For example, following the US presidential election in late November, Malaysia’s ringgit fell by 6.5% to a 19-year low against the dollar, while Indonesia’s rupiah depreciated by roughly 2%.

FDI raises bar

Investor appetite remained strong through 2016, with foreign direct investment (FDI) rising sharply.

Actual foreign investment inflows rose by 9% last year, reaching a record high of $15.8bn, according to data issued by the Ministry of Planning and Investment at the end of the year. Additional funds for existing investment projects and new FDI commitments combined to total $24.4bn – an increase of 7% on the 2015 figure.

The major beneficiaries of FDI were the manufacturing and processing sector, which accounted for 63.7% of all inbound investments; the automotive wholesale, retail and repair sector with 7.8% of the total; and real estate with 6.9%.

Prospects for increase this year remain strong, with the IMF predicting GDP to rise by 6.2%. This estimate is supported by macroeconomic indicators from the fourth quarter, at the same time as GDP rose 6.68% y-o-y, according to GSO data, up from 6.56% in the preceding three months. This increasing pace of expansion, combined with additional favourable conditions for the agricultural sector, should sustain increase in 2017.

Related Articles
  • Climate change laws around the world

    2017/05/14 There has been a 20-fold increase in the number of global climate change laws since 1997, according to the most comprehensive database of relevant policy and legislation. The database, produced by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Sabin Center on Climate Change Law, includes more than 1,200 relevant policies across 164 countries, which account for 95% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Asia Economic Roundup: July 2016

    2016/07/18 Without a doubt Britain’s decision to abandon the European project will be remembered globally as a wake-up call for political elites around the world. It seems the people chose to go against immediate economic interest and accept an extra financial turmoil in order to address deeply seated social and identity issues. Although Asia’s exposure to the UK is relatively limited and this is not exactly a “Lehman Moment”, nonetheless we can expect a lively debate as policymakers in Asia look for an appropriate response to address the needs of vulnerable households.
  • IMF's Christine Lagarde.

    2016/03/20 Good morning—Chào các bạn I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Tran Tho Dat and the National Economic University for inviting me—and thank you, the students, for this wonderful welcome.
  • Towards A Transboundary Haze-Free ASEAN By 2020

    2015/11/16 To sustain the efforts of a transboundary haze-free ASEAN, it is significant to remain vigilant and be prepared early enough to prevent any occurrence of fires. This calls for better early warning systems and swift deployment of fire-fighting resources even before the fires starts.
  • Vietnam Has Fastest-Growing Middle Class in South East Asia

    2015/02/20 In the completed year, according to the World Bank, Vietnam has seen improvements to its macroeconomic performance despite such increase being tempered by structural problems in the banking and national-owned enterprise (SOE) sectors. Further, the World Bank predicts that over the medium-term, increase will remain moderate if there are no major changes to the country’s financial and SOE sectors, said the Asia Briefing.