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October 23, 2007

VIETNAM : Economy
Vietnam on track for 8.5-per-cent growth

Vietnam's rapidly expanding economy is set to record GDP growth rate of 8.5 per cent this year, a parliamentary official reported Monday. However, the same day a new survey indicated that bribe-taking is still rife and could threaten new growth.

The communist country has seen a flood of new investment and will meet the target growth rate, according to Ha Van Hien, chairman of the economic committee of the National Assembly.

Addressing the parliament's opening session Monday, Hien said that entering the World Trade Organization in January had pumped up the economy.

"In 2007, the first year of Vietnam's accession into WTO, Vietnam's economy has recorded a number of encouraging results," Hien said. "GDP growth is maintained at a high rate, and is expected to reach 8.5 per cent."

Vietnam's economy has been booming for the last five years, with last year's growth at 8.2 per cent and foreign investment nearly doubling to 10.8 billion dollars.

The rapid growth is a result of 20-year-old economic reforms that have been speeded up with entry into the WTO, which requires members to drop tariffs and provide a level playing field for foreign companies.

However, corruption is still a problem for doing business in Vietnam, despite new laws aimed at controlling graft and waste.

A study published Monday found that half of businesses surveyed in Vietnam had been forced to pay bribes.

The survey of 124 businesses by the Central Institute on Economic Management found that bribes to get goods released by customs officials were the most common. Courtesy DPA

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