This, right here, is Vietnam’s “golden opportunity” to get the country’s economy back on track while other countries are still in the grips of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Mai Tiến Dũng, Minister-Chairman of the Government Office. Speaking at a press conference in Hanoi yesterday, Minister Dũng said that there was a widespread belief among high-ranking government officials that Vietnam’s economic outlook was positive in spite of the pandemic and that now was the time to take advantage of it.
Minister Dũng quoted official data to support his claims that while, admittedly, tourism-related sectors have suffered great losses across the board, overall Vietnam hasn’t been very badly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. In the first five months of 2020 exports declined only by a small margin as compared to last year, and a trade surplus of US$1.9 billion was still recorded. The country’s macro-economy has remained stable and the figures for retail sales of goods and services are now clearly on the mend after the social distancing period.
The government’s strategy, the minister said, was to remain vigilant of the coronavirus threat but at the same time to push ahead with reactivating the country’s economy. According to Minister Dũng, a number of challenges will need to be addressed as global supply chains will remain interrupted, likely causing significant delays to industrial production.
It needs to be noted that Vietnamese government officials aren’t alone in singing the praises of how well Vietnam has dealt with the COVID-19 situation, with media and economists from around the world joining the chorus. World Bank economist Jacques Morisset has recently said that the Vietnamese economy has been “extremely resilient during these unusually rough times” and has called Vietnam “a bright star in the COVID-19 dark sky.”
Vietnam may also receive an economic boost soon when it resumes travel with Japan, with a deal between the two countries already in the works. The easing of travel restrictions between Vietnam and Japan will be gradual and according to Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, at this point it is mainly intended for business experts and managers so that the two countries may begin to restore their bilateral economic relations.
As of this morning, there has been no community transmission of COVID-19 documented in Vietnam for the past 48 days. The overall tally in the country stands at 328 cases but 298 patients have already recovered and among the remaining active cases, only 18 people currently still test positive for the virus. Till date, there have been no coronavirus-related deaths in Vietnam.
As for the most critically ill COVID-19 patient, a 43-year-old British pilot who had been comatose for months, his health has recently started to improve. His lung function is now at 40 percent, up from 10 percent in a previous examination. While still dependent on life support, he is now conscious and smiled when doctors talked to him on Tuesday.