At a regular government meeting in Hanoi on April 2, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked cabinet members to dilate on growth scenarios for 2018 with the aim of reaching a growth rate of at least 6.7%
At the meeting, PM Phuc highlighted an array of important events which the government carried out in March, including the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in Chile, the organization of the national conference on natural disaster prevention and control and the successful hosting of the sixth Greater Mekong Subregion Summit (GMS-6) and the 10th Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Summit on Development Triangle Area (CLV-10).
At these summits, Vietnam proposed many initiatives, which received great support from all member nations, especially on the organization of the GMS Business Summit.
Regarding socio-economic performance in the first quarter of 2018, the PM said that some basic indicators yielded strong results, with GDP in the first quarter reaching its highest growth rate in many years at 7.38%. Notably, agriculture saw a significant increase of more than 4%, doubling that of the same period last year.
The industry and construction sectors grew by 9.7%, more than double the rate of the corresponding period in 2017. Inflation was kept under control with the consumer price index (CPI) in March down by 0.27% over the previous month. Average CPI in the first quarter of 2018 soared by 2.66% over the same period last year. Total retail sales of consumer goods and services expanded to 9.9%, from 6.4% in the same period of 2017.
The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) of Vietnam hit 51.6 points in March as announced by Nikkei on April 2, Phuc said. Despite suffering a fall in PMI compared to February, Vietnam maintained its place as one of the two highest scoring Southeast Asian nations. Meanwhile, the PMI of many Asian countries fell off amid concerns over an emerging trade war between the US and China.
The first quarter also saw exports increase sharply at US$ 54.3 billion with a trade surplus of roughly US$ 1.3 billion. Disbursement of total investment capital was equivalent to 32.2% of GDP, with private investment surging by 16.9%. International arrivals to Vietnam continued their rapid rate of growth, ballooning by 30.9% to more than 4.2 million when compared to 3.2 million arrivals in the same quarter last year.
The cabinet leader highlighted the improved business and investment environment as shown by the Provincial Competitiveness Index (VCCI) report released by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) which indicated the highest PCI since the index was first published. The securities market has witnessed positive developments with the VNIndex having surpassed the 10 year peak, thus demonstrating investors’ higher confidence in the Vietnamese market, Phuc noted.
However, the PM identified shortcomings and weaknesses that need to be dealt with such as a slowdown in the establishment of new businesses and the growing number of difficult private enterprises.
In response to these issues, he asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment and other relevant ministries and agencies to analyze and clarify barriers to production and business operations with a desire to facilitate the attraction of more domestic and foreign capital resources for national development.
To ensure the 2018 growth target is met, the PM instructed ministries and sectors to develop growth scenarios in order to re-evaluate groups’ and corporations’ production and business operations and stressed the need to keep inflation and CPI in check, intensify fire and explosion prevention and control, and ensure traffic safety to minimize the number of traffic accidents.