Vietnam’s shift from a centrally planned to a market economy has transformed the country from one of the poorest in the world into a lower middle-income country. Vietnam now is one of the most dynamic emerging countries in East Asia region.
Read More »
Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, a “voice” can be worth a hundred statistics. In this book you will see the pictures and hear the voices of our partners in development: a mother cradling h... Show More +er little boy who is alive because of a new health facility in Cambodia; a school principal in Beijing who talks with passion about how her school is part of the solar energy wave; a cocoa farmer in Papua New Guinea who happily works with youth to help them build a sustainable crop and a sustainable future; a village chief in Lao PDR who lovingly holds his grandson and talks about the better life he now knows the boy can have; and a student in Vietnam whose life changed when she received a scholarship. Show Less -
Lower Oil Prices Offer Opportunity for Fiscal ReformsSINGAPORE, April 13, 2015 – Economic growth will ease slightly in developing countries in East Asia and Pacific this year, even as the region benef... Show More +its from lower oil prices and a continued economic recovery in developed economies, according to the East Asia Pacific Economic Update released today by the World Bank.The developing economies of East Asia are projected to grow by 6.7% in 2015 and 2016, slightly down from 6.9% in 2014. China’s growth is expected to moderate to around 7% in the next two years compared with 7.4% in 2014. Growth in the rest of developing East Asia is expected to rise by half a percentage point, to 5.1% this year, largely driven by domestic demand—thanks to upbeat consumer sentiment and falling oil prices—in the large Southeast Asian economies. Several smaller economies, especially commodity exporters such as Mongolia, will see lower growth.“Despite slightly slower growth in East Asia, the region will still account for one-third of global growth, twice the combined contribution of all other developing regions,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank East Asia and Pacific Regional Vice President. “Lower oil prices will boost domestic demand in most countries in the region and provide policy makers a unique opportunity to push fiscal reforms that will raise revenues and reorient public spending toward infrastructure and other productive uses. These reforms can improve East Asia’s competitiveness and help the region retain its status as the world’s economic growth engine.”Low global oil prices will benefit most developing countries in East Asia, especially Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and the Pacific island countries. But the region’s net fuel exporters, including Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, will see slower growth and lower government revenues. In Indonesia, the net impact on growth will depend on how much a decline there will be for its coal and gas exports.The headwinds facing the world economy continue to pose risks to East Asia’s globally-integrated economies. The recovery in high-income countries continues to be slow and uneven, and a downturn in the eurozone and Japan would weaken global trade. Higher U.S. interest rates and an appreciating U.S. dollar, along with diverging monetary policy paths across advanced economies, could raise borrowing costs, generate financial volatility and reduce capital flows to East Asia. The continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar against other major currencies also could hurt highly-dollarized economies such as Cambodia and Timor-Leste.“East Asia Pacific has thrived despite an unsteady global recovery from the financial crisis, but many risks remain for the region, both in the short and long run,” said Sudhir Shetty, Chief Economist of the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Region. “To address these risks, improving fiscal policy is key. With low oil prices, countries – whether oil importers or exporters – should reform energy pricing to usher in fiscal policies that are more sustainable and equitable.”In most of the larger East Asian economies, efforts to bolster revenues and restructure spending can help fill the gap in infrastructure investments and create more funding for social protection and insurance programs, which are already under pressure amid rapid aging in the region, the report says. In the major fuel exporting countries and Mongolia, fiscal consolidation is required.Lower oil prices, in particular, create an opportunity for governments to reduce fuel subsidies and raise energy taxes, the report says. Across much of the region, fuel subsidies and related tax expenditures have strained public finances and weakened current accounts. Some countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia, recently took steps to cut fuel subsidies, but Shetty said the momentum needs to be sustained and broadened, even if oil prices begin to recover.In China, as it shifts to a consumption-led, rather than an investment-led, growth model, the main challenge is to implement reforms that will ensure sustainable growth in the long run. Policies to spur growth, the report says, should support restructuring efforts.In the medium term, the report says, countries should expand and upgrade physical infrastructure and improve public access to higher education and health care. In the long term, countries will need to find ways to sustain productivity growth, contain health care costs and expand the revenue base for social security.The East Asia and Pacific Update is the World Bank’s comprehensive review of the region’s economies. It is published twice yearly and is available free of charge at http://www.worldbank.org/eapupdate. Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/worldbankBe updated via Twitter: www.twitter.com/worldbankasia Show Less -
Hanoi, April 2, 2015 - Today, the Asian Institute of Technology and international development partners established a Vietnam Learning Center on Environmental and Social Sustainability to foster knowle... Show More +dge exchange and capacity building relating to environmental and social safeguards and standards in Vietnam.The center is being established with initial funding support from the Australian Government. Other development partners have committed to provide technical support. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today to this effect. This was the result of efforts by different development partners, including The World Bank Group, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam.“Vietnam’s SEDS seeks more environmentally and socially sustainable development. This requires attention to environmental and social safeguards in executing the country’s huge infrastructure development program,” said Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “The mission of this center is to help fill the gap in Vietnam’s social and environmental safeguards capacity.”The learning center, housed at the Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam, will offer capacity building to project management units, district and provincial authorities, consultants and other stakeholders in social and environmental issues.“Vietnam has taken great strides in recent years in introducing legislation dealing with social and environmental safeguards, and is rightly seen as leading the way in Asia in areas such as payment for forest ecosystem services,” said Mr. Tomoyuki Kimura, Country Director for the Asian Development Bank. “The challenge now is to ensure that the country develops the necessary technical skills and capacity to effectively implement its safeguard requirements. ADB is delighted to be supporting the learning center and believes it has a major role to play in developing highly skilled safeguard professionals in Vietnam, and so contributing to the country's move towards a path of environmentally sustainable growth.”Given the surge of investments in infrastructure sector and Vietnam’s challenges on environmental pollution and climate change related vulnerability, the center is expected to play a critical role, in building long-term capacity on environmental and social aspects of development projects and programs in Vietnam on a sustained basis."Investments in Vietnam's infrastructure will be more durable and effective, and benefit from a lower risk of serious problems, if Vietnam finds ways to incorporate social and environmental safeguards,” said USAID Vietnam Mission Director Joakim Parker. “The Center will help provide the country with the latest information and capacity building to achieve this, as will other efforts like USAID’s to support a broader base for decision-making."The first activity of the center is a 2-week training of trainers’ course in resettlement so that trainers will be available to offer capacity building courses later on. Specific capacity building programs targeted to local institutions, including Program Management Units that are implementing donor-funded infrastructure, will be designed to promote sustainable infrastructure and ensure integration of environmental and social issues within the life cycle of projects. Show Less -
A World Bank-supported project has brought strong social, environmental and economic benefits to local communitiesHUE, March 27, 2015 – More than 43,000 households in central Vietnam have received acc... Show More +ess to micro finance and technical support to establish over 76,500 hectares of forest under a World Bank-supported project.Implemented from 2005 to 2015 in the provinces of Binh Dinh, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Thua Thien Hue, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa, the Forest Sector Development Project has brought strong social, environmental and economic benefits to local communities.“Many families have escaped poverty thanks to forest plantations under the project,” said Pham Quoc Chien, Director of the Project Central Coordination Unit.The project funded efforts to survey land and facilitated the issuance of land use right certificates for about 35,000 households. Farmers use the certificates to apply for low-interest loans from the project’s fund managed by the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies.“The project is the first, and to date, the only one in Vietnam using the approach of lending to small-holder plantation which proves to be much more sustainable, compared to the country’s traditional approach of subsidizing plantation,” said Nguyen Thi Thu Lan, World Bank Sr. Environmental Specialist, Project Task Team Leader.Project officers often provided regular training and on-site support for farmers on developing business plans, budget estimates, planting, monitoring and harvesting.Under the project, a pilot area of 850 hectares received the International Stewardship Forest Certification for meeting strict international technical, social and environmental standards. The price of certified timber is 30% higher than non-certified timber of the same type.More than 400 km of access track have been upgraded, which has lowered transport costs, significantly increased labor productivity and income as well as generated more employment for local people. The project has also supported the construction of 86 fire watchtowers and 102 information boards across the project area to raise public awareness on forest protection and minimize risks of forest fires and damages.Although the project was completed in March 2015, the revolving fund, managed by the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies, will continue to run for 20 more years after the project completion, so many more households will have access to this source of credits.“The modernization of forestry approaches under the project is an internal part of Vietnam’s efforts to modernize agriculture,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “I hope that good practice from this project can be scaled up so many more households in Vietnam will have access to credits and modern forest plantation approaches.”The project received financing of more than 100 million USD from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group, the Trust Fund for Forestry, and the Government of Vietnam. Show Less -