Countryaah reports, a series of strikes were carried out at the
beginning of the year by industrial workers protesting that
their wages did not keep pace with inflation. As a result,
the government decided that the workers who participated in
an illegal strike could be ordered to pay damages to their
employers for up to three months' wages. The country's
highest court was empowered to decide whether a strike was
considered illegal or not.
In April, three people were sentenced to two to five
years in prison for trying to "sabotage the state by forming
a reactionary organization" under the name Bac Gang Diang.
The three convicted people have published documents on the
Internet that "falsify history, damage the country's ruling
Communist Party and call for protests". Sometime before, a
freelance journalist had been sentenced to five years in
prison for "receiving money from abroad for the purpose of
damaging the state's interests". According to the
organization Reporters Without Borders, the journalist must
have been sentenced without access to defenders and his
health must have deteriorated since he was arrested in the
autumn of 2007.
Later in the year, three people were sentenced to prison
for providing financial support to a "terrorist group", Viet
Tan, and "brought in weapons, printed leaflets and planned
to build a terrorist network in the country". Two rogue
reporters were sentenced to prison for abusing their
positions when they revealed a corruption scandal involving
several high-ranking Communist Party members. The
disclosure, among other things, led to the Minister of
Transport leaving in 2006.
Ho角ng Minh Chinh, one of Vietnam's most well-known
dissenters, passed away in February at the age of 85 after a
long illness. Ho角ng Minh Chinh was initially a highly
regarded person within the Communist Party, but over time
became disappointed with Communism. He eventually went on to
become a champion of democracy and spent many years in house
arrest as well as prison.
Following the death of Secretary-General Le Duan in 1986,
the CCP was seriously concerned about economic policy,
partly from inspiration from Gorbachev's perestroika in the
Soviet Union, and partly from Deng Xiaoping's reforms in
China. The new policy was launched by Secretary General
Nguyen Van Linh (1986-1992) under the slogan Doi Moi.
Agriculture was decolonized by farmers regaining their
control over the rice fields, which led to strong production
growth: From being plagued by acute food shortages and
rigorous rationing in 1986, Vietnam at the turn of the
millennium became the world's second largest rice exporter,
During the Asian crisis of 1997-1998, Vietnam came under
increasing pressure from the IMF and foreign investors to
adapt to the global market economy, reform the financial
sector, make the currency convertible, privatize state-owned
enterprises, reduce tariffs, and facilitate conditions for
After Vietnam broke out of its international isolation,
the country has seen stronger economic growth than other
countries in Southeast Asia, albeit from a very low level.
During the period 2000-2016, annual economic growth averaged
6.19 per cent. The management talks about a "socialist
market economy", but already in the 1990s private business
accounted for more than half the GDP. Extreme poverty has
been greatly reduced: In 1992, 49.2 percent of Vietnamese
lived for $ 1.90 a day or less; in 2012 the proportion was
reduced to 3.2 per cent. Trade has been released, which has
led to a capitalist revolution and a complete change in the
street scene in the cities.
Significant foreign investment contributed to a strong
increase in exports of shoes and textiles, coffee and other
agricultural products, as well as seafood. Since the turn of
the millennium, the refugees from the 1970s and 1980s, the
"boat people", have been welcomed back as investors, and
have accounted for a significant part of their investment
capital from outside. During the period 1993-2003, total
exports doubled. One of the contributing factors was
increasing oil production. After a Vietnamese-Soviet joint
venture (Vietsovpetro) had a monopoly, a number of Western
oil companies established themselves in the 1990s. At the
dissolution of the Soviet Union, the friendship pact and the
great Soviet assistance fell away.
In the 1990s, after the end of the war in Cambodia,
Vietnam managed to break its diplomatic isolation, normalize
relations with China (1992) and the United States (1995),
and gain membership in the Southeast Asian Cooperation
Organization ASEAN (1995). Norway opened an embassy in Hanoi
in 1996, when Gro Harlem Brundtland conducted the first
Norwegian Prime Minister's visit in the country. In 1998,
Vietnam hosted the ASEAN Summit, and in 2006, Hanoi welcomed
top executives from 21 nations in Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC). As the first Vietnamese Prime Minister
in more than 30 years, Phan Van Khai made an official visit
to the United States in 2005.
Poverty reduction and economic growth are at the heart of
the pervasive Doi moi reform. At the same time, extensive
reform work is underway in the public sector, the judiciary
and the education system. Since the reform process started
in 1986, the proportion of the population living below the
poverty line has been reduced from 58 per cent in 1993 to 16
per cent in 2007. Poverty reduction has been significant.
From being one of the world's poorest countries, in 2010
Vietnam gained the status of a middle-income country. The
reduction is a result of the privatization of agriculture
and greater emphasis on the private sector as a driving
force for the economy. However, despite progress, poverty is
still widespread in rural areas, primarily among ethnic
In 2007, President Nguyen Minh Triet conducted the first
Vietnamese state visit to the United States since the
Vietnam War, at the head of over a hundred business people.
Trade with the United States has been growing rapidly since
the relationship was normalized in 1995. Until then, it was
forbidden for American companies to do business with
Vietnam, but since the turn of the millennium, virtually all
restrictions have been removed. In 2006, the two countries
signed a free trade agreement, the year after that trade
passed $ 80 billion. 1,200 US companies were then
represented in Vietnam. Intel data manufacturer Intel
started construction work in 2007 at a factory outside Ho
Chi Minh City with a cost limit of $ 1 billion. Today, about
80 percent of Intel's data chips are manufactured in
In general, the investment climate for foreign trading
partners has improved significantly in recent years, partly
as a result of a new company and investment law.
Considerable effort remains in the fight against corruption,
which is regularly emphasized at the highest levels. In
2007, Vietnam initiated a massive partial privatization of
banks, insurance companies and other state-controlled
companies, including the national airline Vietnam Airlines.
The country's largest bank and insurance company were both
listed. The privatization process has attracted Western and
Japanese investors, but the state will still hold 51 percent
of the shares.
The economic upswing culminated in 2006-2007 with a
growth rate of over 8 per cent. The Saigon Stock Exchange
had risen by 144 per cent in 2006, the second largest
increase of all the world's stock exchanges. The index fell
somewhat back in 2007, and in 2008 the index went down from
about 1000 points to 320. In 2008, imports rose much
stronger than exports, the dong currency weakened and
inflation rose dramatically. Vietnamese economy is extremely
export-oriented, more than any other country in the region,
relatively speaking. After acute food shortages and severe
rationing until around 1990, Vietnam was under Doi moi
reform has become the world's second largest rice exporter.
Since the turn of the millennium, the country has also
become one of the major exporting nations for coffee,
seafood and rubber, as well as for shoes and textiles. The
export industry has accounted for a higher proportion of GDP
than any other country in the region. However, this caused
the global financial crisis to hit Vietnam particularly
In 2006, Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).
During a lengthy negotiating process, the United States made
strict demands for reform. However, Hanoi suffered a trade
policy defeat when the EU and the US imposed sanctions on
Vietnamese footwear and other leather goods, immediately
after WTO membership was in port.
Otherwise, Vietnam has seen remarkable progress in
shipbuilding, with construction contracts also for Norwegian
shipping companies. Maritime economics are increasingly
emphasized, and rapid growth in the export industry has put
a previously underemployed workforce and other resources
into production. Production of rice, coffee, farmed fish
(shrimp), textiles, footwear and furniture has created
millions of new jobs. Much of the workforce, for a large
number of women, comes from rural areas. During the reform
process, the labor market has changed dramatically.
Previously, the workforce was governed from above by
administrative principles; the workers themselves had little
influence. Today there is a real labor market with supply,
demand and pricing of labor. Men and women now spend about
the same number of hours on paid work. The Doi Moi reform
has made great strides for women, although women continue to
earn less than men. In the private sector, wages for women
account for an average of 80 per cent of men.
After the transition from collective farms to private
family farms, farmers are given land settlement contracts of
20-30 years. Although the state formally owns all land, the
contracts are inherited from father to son and can also be
sold. This has led to fierce land speculation in urban
areas. Speculators have been able to collect huge profits as
land prices have risen steeply. Some of the profits have
been captured by an underdeveloped tax system. The tourism
industry has become increasingly important since Vietnam
began the tourism industry around 1990.
Vietnam was ranked 116th out of 188 countries in the UN
Human Development Index in 2014. The country is number 65
out of 144 countries on the World Economic Forum's Equality
Index in 2016. Environmental and climate issues are high on
the political agenda. The government considers the country
one of the most vulnerable in terms of climate change. It is
claimed that the greenhouse effect is already evident with
an increasing number of typhoons and worse flood damage.
Climate change is considered a real threat to Vietnam's
continued socio-economic development and growth.