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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. Real  GDP grew by an estimated 7 percent in 2019, similar to 2018, one of the fastest growth rates in the region.

    Given its deep integration with the global economy, the Vietnamese economy has been hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but has shown remarkable resilience. The initial health impact of the outbreak had not been as severe in Vietnam as in other countries due to proactive measures at the national and subnational levels. The macro-economic and fiscal framework remains resilient with an estimated GDP growth rate of 1.8 percent in the first half of 2020, projected to reach 2.8 percent for the year. Vietnam is one of the few countries in the world not to expect a recession, though its growth rate for this year is far less than the typical 6-7 percent pre-crisis projections. However, the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is hard to predict given the uncertainty surrounding its magnitude and duration. Public financing requirements will increase as the result of lower revenue and higher spending due to the stimulus package launched  to mitigate 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 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 96.5 million in 2019 (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.

    Between 2010 and 2020, the Human Capital Index for Vietnam increases from 0.66 to 0.69. A Vietnamese child born today will be 69 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.

    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. However, in recent years, Vietnam’s physical capital investment as a percentage of GDP has been among the lowest in the ASEAN region. This will create challenges for continued growth of modern infrastructure services required for the next phase of growth (Vietnam ranks 89th out of 137 countries for quality of its infrastructure).

    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, the power sector itself accounts for nearly two-thirds of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. There is an urgent need to accelerate the clean energy transition. Over the past two decades, Vietnam has emerged as the fastest growing per-capita greenhouse gas emitters in the world – growing at about 5 percent annually. 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: Oct 6, 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
    • Promote good governance

    Building on the World Bank Group’s continued strong engagement in Vietnam, the CPF introduces 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: Oct 6, 2020

  • As of October 6, 2020, the Bank has provided US$24.94 billion in grants, credits, and concessional loans to Vietnam through 210 operations. Vietnam's existing portfolio consists of 39 active projects, with total net commitments of US$7.41 billion. In addition, Vietnam benefits from a large and diverse portfolio of Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA), with 33 currently active tasks. Many ASA engagements leverage country-level partnerships and trust funds from development partners.

    Clean Energy

    The Trung Son Hydropower Project supported the development of a 260-megawatt, grid-connected hydropower plant in the remote part of central Vietnam. Fully operational since 2017, the plant has supplied 1 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually at a levelized cost lower than other renewable sources or coal. The hydro plant reduced GHG emissions by approximately 1 million tons compared to a thermal plant supplying the same volume of electricity.The project increased the percentage of the local population with access to electricity from 30 percent in 2015 to 97 percent in 2019 – while contributing to improved quality of electricity supply in the broader region. The plant has also helped mitigate flood risks in downstream communities.  

    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 which closed in FY19 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.

    Environment and Natural Resources  

    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 by 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 power and wind power.

    The Coastal Resources for Sustainable Development Project introduced tools and practices for better fisheries management to 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 fishers in adopting good aquaculture practices with the introduction of new eco-friendly technologies, while helping improve the biosecurity infrastructure in which they operate.

    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 2019, 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: Oct 6, 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
eapnews@worldbank.org