Tue, Dec 24, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Exports bolster Vietnam GDP growth


Vietnam’s economic growth accelerated as exports climbed, even as banks struggled to meet the government’s lending target.

GDP rose 6.04 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, quickening from a 5.54 percent gain in the three months through September, according to data released by the General Statistics Office yesterday. For the full year, the economy grew 5.42 percent, faster than a 5.25 percent pace last year, and the median estimate of 5.3 percent in a Bloomberg survey.

Manufacturers from Samsung Electronics Co to Nokia Oyj have boosted Vietnam’s exports, which grew 15.4 percent this year from a year earlier.

That has helped offset faltering bank lending, as the government takes steps to resolve bad debt and overhaul the financial system.

“The economy is steadily recovering,” Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corp managing director Fiachra MacCana said. “Exports are still the main driver, especially for Vietnam’s manufacturing industries, but there’s a little bit of domestic backup there. It’s a broad-based recovery.”

Vietnam received US$11.5 billion in disbursed foreign direct investment (FDI) this year, a 10 percent increase from last year, the Statistics Office said.

Pledged FDI was US$21.6 billion, a gain of 55 percent from a year earlier, the office said.

Higher costs and wages in China are prompting some firms to set up manufacturing in neighboring Asian economies. Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, is building a US$2 billion plant in Vietnam that may make 120 million handsets a year by 2015, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

“The Mekong region, led by Vietnam, is evolving into a strategic manufacturing destination for multinational corporations,” said Eugenia Victorino, a Singapore-based economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “We see foreign direct investment as supportive of the export industry.”

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung plans to complete a revamp of state-owned enterprises by 2015 and has set up an asset management company to clear bad debt at lenders.

The economy may grow 5.4 percent next year, the World Bank said this month, slower than a government target of 5.8 percent.

Services, which made up 43 percent of the economy, grew 6.6 percent this year, while industry and construction, which accounted for 38 percent of GDP, expanded 5.4 percent, data showed.

Inflation quickened to 6.04 percent this month, data showed.

Dung told the central bank earlier this month price gains must be kept at 6.5 percent to 7 percent for next year.

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