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Overview

  • Vietnam’s development over the past 30 years has been remarkable. Economic and political reforms under Đổi Mới, launched in 1986, have spurred rapid economic growth, transforming what was then one of the world’s poorest nations into a lower middle-income country. Between 2002 and 2018, GDP per capita increased by 2.7 times, reaching over US$2,700 in 2019, and more than 45 million people were lifted out of poverty. Poverty rates declined sharply from over 70 percent to below 6 percent (US$3.2/day PPP). The vast majority of Vietnam’s remaining poor – 86 percent –are ethnic minorities.

    In 2019, Vietnam’s economy continued to show fundamental strength and resilience, supported by robust domestic demand and export-oriented manufacturing. Preliminary data indicate that real GDP grew by about 7 percent in 2019, close to the rate reported in 2018, and one of the fastest growth rates in the region.

    Given its deep integration with the global economy, Vietnam has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, the health impact of the outbreak has not been as severe in Vietnam as in other countries due to proactive measures at the national and subnational levels. While the macro-economic and fiscal framework remains resilient with a reported GDP growth rate of 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is hard to predict, given the uncertainty surrounding its magnitude and duration. Nevertheless, the economic growth is expected to slow down to 3-4 percent in 2020 compared 6.5 percent pre-crisis projections. Public financing requirements will increase as the result of lower revenue and higher spending due to the stimulus package that will be necessary to compensate for the negative effect of the pandemics on households and businesses. Thanks to its strong fundamentals, and assuming the relative control of the COVID-19 pandemic both in Vietnam and in the world, the Vietnamese economy should rebound in 2021. COVID-19 has also shown the necessity for stronger reforms to help the economy recover in the medium term, such as improving business environment, promoting the digital economy, and enhancing public investment effectiveness and efficiency, which are some of the key agendas for Vietnam to consider stronger and faster reform actions.

    Vietnam is experiencing rapid demographic and social change. Its population reached 97 million in 2018 (up from about 60 million in 1986) and is expected to expand to 120 million by 2050. Today, 70 percent of the population is under 35 years of age, with a life expectancy of 76 years, the highest among countries in the region at similar income levels. But the population is rapidly aging. And Vietnam’s emerging middle class, currently accounting for 13 percent of the population, is expected to reach 26 percent by 2026.

    Vietnam ranks 48 out of 157 countries on the human capital index (HCI), second in ASEAN behind Singapore. A Vietnamese child born today will be 67 percent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. Vietnam’s HCI is the highest among middle-income countries, but there are some disparities within the country, especially for ethnic minorities. There is also a need to upgrade the skills of the workforce to create productive jobs at a large scale in the future.

    Vietnam performs well on general education. Vietnam received remarkably high scores in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012 and 2015, where the performance of Vietnamese students exceeds that of many OECD countries.

    Health outcomes have improved in tandem with rising living standards. From 1993 to 2017, the infant mortality rate decreased from 32.6 to 16.7 (per 1,000 live births). Between 1990 and 2016, life expectancy increased from 70.5 to 76.3 years, and is the highest in the region for countries at a similar income level. Vietnam’s universal health coverage index is at 73—higher than regional and global averages—with 87 percent of the population covered. However, the high and widening sex ratio at birth (115 in 2018) shows that fundamental gender discrimination persists. At the same time, Vietnam is one of the most rapidly aging countries and the 65+ age group is expected to increase 2.5 times by 2050.

    Over the past 30 years, the provision of basic services has improved significantly. Access of households to infrastructure services has increased dramatically. As of 2016, 99 percent of the population uses electricity as their main source of lighting, up from just 14 percent in 1993. Access to clean water in rural areas has also improved, up from 17 percent in 1993 to 70 percent in 2016, while that figure for urban areas is above 95 percent.

    Vietnam’s rapid growth and industrialization have had detrimental impacts on the environment and natural assets.  Electricity consumption has tripled over the past decade, growing faster than output. Given the increasing reliance of fossil-fuels, power sector itself accounts for nearly two-thirds of country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Demand for water continues to increase, while water productivity is low, about 12 percent of global benchmarks. Unsustainable exploitation of natural assets such as sand, fisheries, and timber could negatively affect prospects for long-term growth. Compounding the problem is the reality that much of Vietnam’s population and economy is highly vulnerable to climate impacts.

    Urbanization and strong economic and population growth are causing rapidly increasing waste management and pollution challenges. Waste generation in Vietnam is expected to double in less than 15 years. Linked to this is the issue of marine plastics. Ninety percent of global marine plastic pollution is estimated to come from just 10 in-land rivers, and the Mekong river is one of them. Vietnam is among the 10 countries worldwide that are most affected by air pollution. Water pollution has significant costs on productivity of key sectors and human health.

    The government is working to lower the environmental footprint of the country’s growth and effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change. Key strategies and plans to stimulate green growth and sustainable use of its natural assets are in place. The government is also implementing measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change and address extreme weather events and natural disasters by operationalizing its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). 

    Last Updated: Apr 27, 2020

  • The current World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Vietnam guides the Bank Group's engagements in the country from 2018 to 2022.

    Endorsed on May 30, 2017, and reflecting and building on the priorities identified and expressed in the World Bank Group's 2016 Systematic Country Diagnostic, the Vietnam 2035 Report, and the Government of Vietnam’s 2016-2020 Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP), the CPF has four priority areas:

    • Enable inclusive growth and private sector participation;
    • Invest in people and knowledge;
    • Ensure environmental sustainability and resilience;
    • Governance.

    Building on the World Bank Group’s continued strong engagement in Vietnam, the CPF introduces a number of strategic shifts that will guide the Group’s work going forward:

    • Comprehensive engagement to strengthen private sector development and participation across sectors;
    • Support to achieve the financial sustainability of public services and transfers;
    • Support to poverty reduction amongst ethnic minorities, through livelihood and income generation activities;
    • Multisector engagements to strengthen linkages between education and the labor market; and
    • Promote and stimulate low carbon energy generation.

    The World Bank Group conducted a Performance and Learning Review (PLR) of the CPF in early 2019. It confirmed the relevance of the current CPF, aligned with the government of Vietnam’s development objectives and demand for WBG support. It also broadened engagements to improve the welfare and development of ethnic minority groups and implementation of Vietnam’s Nationally Determined Contributions to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    Achievement of the objectives set forth in the CPF results framework are largely on track, following the implementation of a large WB lending portfolio that includes many projects approved under IDA18 and IBRD, strong International Finance Corporation (IFC) performance, and the implementation of a comprehensive Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA) portfolio supporting and informing key policy and reform areas.

    Last Updated: Apr 27, 2020

  • As of April 22, 2020, the Bank has provided US$24.44 billion in grants, credits, and concessional loans to Vietnam through 209 operations. Vietnam's existing portfolio consists of 37 active projects, with total net commitments of US$7.07 billion. In addition, Vietnam benefits from a large and diverse portfolio of Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA), with 45 currently active tasks. Many ASA engagements leverage country-level partnerships and trust funds from development partners.

    Sustainable Development

    Vietnam has been pursuing reforms and investments that aim to promote green growth and address its high vulnerability to climate change. The World Bank has supported Vietnam in promoting this sustainability agenda across various sectors.

    Through the Climate Change and Green Growth Development Financing, the World Bank made a strong contribution to the climate change and green growth reform agenda. One pillar helped improve inter-sectoral coastal planning and mainstream climate change into public investment across selected key sectors. In addition, policies supported under this program helped promote the uptake of water-efficient irrigation practices and technologies and prompted provinces to establish protection corridors for main water sources. Reforms brought about by this program also contributed to improved energy efficiency of household appliances and increased investment in renewable energy, particularly solar.

    The Coastal Resources for Sustainable Development Project introduced tools and practices for better fisheries management by authorities and fishermen alike, along eight coastal provinces in Vietnam. Between 2012 and 2018, the project supported 40 coastal districts and 257 coastal communes to shift from fragmented sectoral planning to an integrated spatial planning for co-management of fisheries. The project also assisted 13,000 fishermen in adopting good aquaculture practices with the introduction of new eco-friendly technologies, while helping to improve the biosecurity infrastructure in which they operate.

    The Vietnam Renewable Energy Development Project supported some of the first large-scale private-sector led deployments of renewable energy into Vietnam’s power mix, which has significantly expanded today, accounting for nearly 10 percent of Vietnam’s power generation capacity. The project closed in FY2019 provided early-stage investment and technical support to build the requisite capacity and incentives among all stakeholders for scaled-up development. In addition, 19 new small hydropower plants were built with a total capacity of 320MW, which supplied an annual volume of 1,260GWh. All these plants followed global best practices on environmental and social risk management, setting new industry benchmarks in Vietnam.

    Environmental Protection

    The Vietnam Industrial Pollution Management Project has significantly improved compliance with industrial wastewater treatment regulations in four of the most industrialized provinces in Vietnam. About 70 percent of water discharged from industrial zones was untreated. Between 2012 and 2018, the percentage of industrial zones compliant with wastewater treatment regulations increased from less than 30 percent to 72 percent. During the same period, the percentage of those with an on-site centralized effluent treatment plant increased from 60 percent to 98 percent. This is significant given that the number of industrial zones has increased by 26.4 percent.

    The Vietnam Hospital Waste Management Support Project helped reduce the healthcare wastewater and solid waste by 30 percent and 33 percent, respectively. The project financed the installation of waste treatment system in 218 hospitals across 55 cities and provinces. The project also helped strengthen the legal framework for medical waste management in Vietnam.

    Urban Development

    The Mekong Delta Region Urban Upgrading Project has turned low-income, low-lying areas into greener urban spaces in six cities of the Mekong Delta Region. The project has helped improve the living conditions of about 625,000 direct beneficiaries by upgrading basic infrastructure. An additional two million people indirectly benefited from the city-wide infrastructure improvements and the new social facilities. The long-term benefits go beyond the duration of the project. The total quantifiable benefits are estimated at approximately US$724 million in terms of saving in healthcare costs, productive time, flood control damage, and increased land value.

    Rural Development

    The Results-Based Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Under the National Target Program has helped address one of the biggest challenges in rural Vietnam by investing in physical infrastructure and improving the legal framework for sustained access to water supply and sanitation (WSS) services. Between 2013 and 2018, more than 1 million people had their water supply connected to sustainable water systems, while 400,000 new functioning water supply connections were built. In addition, about 1.4 million people in 203 communes gained access to commune-wide sanitation. Improved sanitary latrines were built in some 142,000 households and 1,500 schools. The program also significantly strengthened institutional mechanisms for WSS monitoring, and evaluation processes within the implementing agencies of participating provinces.         

    Human Capital

    Vietnam joined the Human Capital Project in 2019 to improve nutrition and access to quality education and to enhance workforce development for a changing economy. The World Bank has supported Vietnam in reforming the educational system at all levels. The School Readiness Promotion Project, for example, helped increase access to full-day preschool to 84 percent of five-year-old children in 2015  from 66 percent in 2011. The quality of preschool instruction improved through the introduction of a child-centered learning approach for 250,000 early childhood education teachers. The Bank also provides strategic advice for Vietnam on how to prepare its workforce for future jobs.

    Poverty Reduction

    Vietnam has made great strides in reducing poverty and improving quality of life for millions. The World Bank has worked closely with Vietnam to address the last miles in poverty eradication as approximately 8 million of Vietnamese people still lived with less than US$3.2 per day in 2018. The Second Northern Mountains Poverty Reduction Project, implemented in six mountainous provinces in the poorest region of Vietnam during 2010-2018, exemplifies this productive partnership. The project aimed to enhance the living standards of ethnic minorities by improving their access to productive infrastructure, building capacity of local governments and communities, and promoting market linkages and business innovations. The project, which benefited 192,000 households and resulted in a 16 percent increase in incomes, provided good lessons for government to revise its poverty reduction policy and approach.

    Governance Reforms

    Improving the efficiency and integrity of the public sector is a priority for the World Bank in Vietnam. The World Bank is supporting Vietnam’s Office of the Government (OOG) in its efforts to strengthen the delivery mechanisms in administrative procedures and e-government reforms during the 2018-2020 period. OOG launched the National Public Services Portal in December and E-Cabinet in June 2019. In February 2019, the Bank and OOG conducted a readiness assessment to ascertain the potential for digital government development in Vietnam. Earlier, the Bank conducted a ground-breaking study on conflict–of–interest issues in the context of growing interactions interactions between the public and private sectors.

    Last Updated: Apr 27, 2020

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LENDING

Vietnam: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments



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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Hanoi, +84.2439346600
8th Floor, 63 Ly Thai To, Hanoi, Vietnam
vietnam@worldbank.org
Washington, +1 202-473-4709
1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433
eastasiapacific@worldbank.org