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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    11 May 2012

UNESCAP: Vietnam to grow at 5.8% in 2012

HA NOI — Viet Nam can maintain economic growth of 5.8 per cent and reduce inflation to 9.8 per cent this year, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP).

Shuvojit Banerjee, economic officer at the Bangkok-based UN ESCAP, said that declining inflation would help Viet Nam stimulate consumption and improve investor confidence.

Last year, the country had an inflation rate of 18.6 per cent – the second highest behind that of 2008 when the global economy fell into crisis.
Strong stabilisation measures were introduced to curb double-digit inflation.

Banerjee spoke at the launch ceremony of the organisation's annual 2012 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific in Ha Noi and 30 other locations around the world yesterday.

If inflation continued to elevate, it could badly affect poverty and food insecurity, he said, noting that poor people in Viet Nam spent 60-70 per cent of their incomes on food as reported by the Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).

"The whole region, including Viet Nam, continues to face a challenging external economic climate, urging enhanced regional co-operation and domestic consumption," Banerjee said.
This would not only enable national policies to have greater influence at regional and international level, but also help countries like Viet Nam become less dependent on exports, he said.

Banerjee, however, said that streamlining Government expenditure and restructuring large State-owned enterprises to improve the quality of investment were still challenges to the country.

Dr Pham Thi Lan Huong, head of the CIEM's Marcro Economic Policy Department, said that there was proof of the connection between rising food prices and poverty in Viet Nam during the time of increased inflation.

The national poverty rate has jumped to 14.2 per cent in 2010 from 13.4 per cent in 2008.

Increasing commodity prices depressed the country from developing sophisticated products with high value that could help it keep up with high-income countries, she said.

To deal with high commodity prices, Huong said, the country should diversify its economy, create jobs, especially for the poor, and boost domestic consumption.

Moreover, increasing salaries needed to go in line with the increase of productivity, she said, suggesting more support for the poor to get jobs.

She also suggested other measures including the expansion of non-agriculture services, especially in the value chain, expansion of domestic markets for agriculture products and green agriculture with advanced technologies.

Viet Nam's National Assembly set a target to maintain economic growth at 6.5 per cent this year.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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