The idea of putting together a socio-economic development strategy to strengthen the Vietnamese nation is becoming more popular amongst the international community. Most nations that have experienced a substantial amount of international terrorism over the last fifteen to twenty years have been working on developing a comprehensive and integrated socio-economic development plan. Unfortunately, much of this emerging global effort has focused on building national police forces, creating infrastructure, and encouraging the private sector. Not enough attention has been paid to creating a system for economic development that will create jobs and provide a basic infrastructure that will eventually draw the people of Vietnam and other nations who have been impacted by terrorists, drugs, and crimes, into a more cohesive and united nation. The creation of a more comprehensive approach is necessary for any nation that wishes to prevent the type of chaos that currently plagues parts of the Middle East and much of Asia.
Currently, there are five goals that are being pursued in Vietnam’s socio-economic development strategy. First, the goal is to make the country’s agricultural base stronger. Vietnam historically produces some of the highest agricultural output per year in the world. Second, the plan is to promote higher economic growth through high-value exports. Third, to increase overall economic freedom by increasing political and economic freedom of people, and finally, to improve overall quality of life by improving health, nutrition, education, and the quality of life.
Although it may seem at first glance that these goals would be beneficial to all countries that wish to strengthen their economy, many people are cynical about how well Vietnam is doing in terms of implementing its socio-economic development plan. Many people believe that the primary drivers behind the success or failure of any nation’s development plan comes from its ability to successfully implement its chosen policies and utilize the appropriate resources in the process. As is the case with most socialist societies, there is an overall belief that the distribution of wealth should benefit all citizens. Despite this overall belief, there are clear signs that Vietnam is not effectively utilizing its domestic resources to promote economic growth. As such, Vietnam is falling far behind other rapidly developing nations when it comes to the implementation of its economic strategy.
One of the primary drivers behind Vietnam’s poor economic performance comes from its lack of a properly developed public-private partnership (PPR) system. As many developing countries have found out, developing successful partnerships requires the expertise of both private and public sector actors. In the case of Vietnam, there is a lack of capable private investment groups that can leverage private investment capital to develop and expand the nation’s economy. Since Vietnam lacks a formalized private investment sector, it has had to develop a system for capitalizing on the nation’s poor infrastructure and poor management of its massive petroleum and coal resources. A poor infrastructure allows the government to implement its development strategies with limited support from private actors.
Another significant problem that Vietnam is facing comes from its poor infrastructure and poor management of these resources. Although Vietnam is making progress when it comes to electrification, transportation, telecommunication, natural resources and water, it is lagging behind in other areas. For example, it lacks preparedness for disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Likewise, it lacks qualified civil engineers to assess the quality of its sewage system. And while it is making headway in improving its ports and rail network, these improvements are lagging behind other Asian nations, whose ports are being overtaken by China in particular.
Because Vietnam lacks the resources to make significant progress when it comes to development, it needs assistance from international organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Yet, such assistance will only be meaningful if Vietnam’s poor development model is changed. Currently, despite its poor infrastructure and poor management of its resources, Vietnam is making considerable progress when it comes to poverty reduction and income disparity. But to achieve its goals for economic development, more change is needed. Vietnam cannot move forward until it removes political and social barriers to its development.
Prominent among these obstacles are the country’s poor leadership structure, lack of private capital, poor infrastructure, poverty, lack of skills and education, and conflict over land and resources. The combination of these factors – inadequate infrastructure, ineffective management of these resources, poor management of resource distribution, and endemic corruption – have resulted in a poor economic growth that lags other countries. In addition, poverty continues to increase in Vietnam due to the poor management of resources and poverty-inducing policies and attitudes.
Only a comprehensive development program can remove many of these hurdles. Through multilateral financial support, dedicated funding, technical assistance, and sensitive political engagement, Vietnam can remove poverty and improve the quality of life. Only then can Vietnam realize its full developmental potential and meet its aspiration to become a high-income country in Southeast Asia. Only then can it become an engine for economic growth and a bulwark against poverty and political instability. Only then will the benefits of Vietnam’s economic growth to trickle down to the Vietnamese people, who desperately need the fruits of their labor and creativity.