Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

VIETNAM: Light at the End of the Economic Tunnel?

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

VIETNAM: Light at the End of the Economic Tunnel?

Article excerpt

Russell Hiang-Khng Heng

Vietnam's economy spiralled downwards in the last three years, disappointing an international community that, in the earlier half of the 1990s, had expected the country to be the next "tiger" economy. While the 1997 regional financial crisis did contribute to the economic slowdown, the self-generated ineptitude of the Vietnamese state was a significant cause as well. A slate of social and political problems also points to bad governance. Against this background of lacklustre economic results, some emerging positive indicators may give the impression that the year 2000 marked the beginning of Vietnam's passage out of the economic doldrums. Evidence of initial recovery in some regional economies bolsters this optimism about Vietnam. However, since an earlier confidence in the growth imperative of Vietnam's economy proved misplaced, economic forecasting will have to be more circumspect, the second time round. During America's Vietnam War, a catchphrase summed up the United States' hopefulness that it was getting on top of the struggle with Hanoi's guerrilla forces: seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. …

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