Agriculture: paddy rice, coffee, rubber, cotton, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas; poultry; fish, seafood
Industries: food processing, garments, shoes, machine-building; mining, coal, steel; cement, chemical fertilizer, glass, tires, oil, paper
Exports: crude oil, marine products, rice, coffee, rubber, tea, garments, shoes
Imports: machinery and equipment, petroleum products, fertilizer, steel products, raw cotton, grain, cement, motorcycles
Currency: dong (VND)
Exchange rates: dong per US dollar - 15,983 (2006)
Vietnam is a densely-populated, developing country that in the last 30 years has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy. Substantial progress was achieved from 1986 to 1997 in moving forward from an extremely low level of development and significantly reducing poverty.
Since 2001, Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and international integration. They have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. Agriculture's share of economic output has continued to shrink, from about 25% in 2000 to 20% in 2006.
Vietnam's membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and entry into force of the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in December 2001 have led to even more rapid changes in Vietnam's trade and economic regime. Vietnam's exports to the US doubled in 2002 and again in 2003.
Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007, following over a decade long negotiation process. This should provide an important boost to the economy and should help to ensure the continuation of liberalizing reforms. Among other benefits, accession allows Vietnam to take advantage of the phase-out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which eliminated quotas on textiles and clothing for WTO partners on 1 January 2005.
Vietnam is working to create jobs to meet the challenge of a labor force that is growing by more than one million people every year. Vietnamese authorities have tightened monetary and fiscal policies to stem high inflation. Hanoi is targeting an economic growth rate of 7.5-8% during the next five years.
Source: World Factbook, updated August 2007