Virus plunges Vietnam growth to lowest level in decades

Vietnam posted economic growth of 2.91 percent in 2020 on Sunday, the slowest rate in more than 30 years as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic.
The communist state has long been one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, and the 2020 number was a sharp drop from last year's seven percent GDP growth.
But Vietnam's performance looks rosy in the context of a global recession sparked by the pandemic, and officials hailed it as a "great success".
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Hanoi-based General Statistics Office (GSO) said in a statement on Sunday that growth was 4.48 percent for the last quarter, up from 2.91 percent at year-end.
"Given the complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is having a major impact on the socio-economic situation, this has been a great achievement for Vietnam," GSO said in the statement.
While many countries have suffered high rates of infection and death, Vietnam, with a population of 96 million, recorded fewer than 1,500 coronavirus cases and only 35 deaths.
Mass quarantines, extensive contact tracing, and strict movement controls have allowed the country to keep factories largely open and get people back to work quickly.
The official figures exceeded the forecast of the International Monetary Fund of 2.4 percent growth for Vietnam. The IMF has forecast a worldwide decline of 4.4 percent.
The World Bank says Vietnam could be more successful in 2021.
"Looking ahead, the outlook for Vietnam appears to be positive as the economy is expected to grow by about 6.8 percent in 2021 and then stabilize at around 6.5 percent," the bank said in a recently released report.
tmh / pdw / qan

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