Sharma made the statement in his article, titled “Is Vietnam the Next ‘Asian Miracle’?” published by the New York Times on October 13.
According to the article, within days following China’s announcement its first COVID-19 case, Vietnam mobilised different resources to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Rapid isolation of outbreaks has kept Vietnam’s death rate among the four lowest in the world, it said.
While many nations are suffering enormous economic contractions and running to the International Monetary Fund for financial rescues, Vietnam is growing at a 3% annual pace. Its growth is driven by a record trade surplus, despite the collapse in global trade.
The author noted during their boom years, the original Asian miracles — first Japan, then Taiwan and the Republic of Korea, and most recently China — produced annual export growth close to 20%, which were nearly double the average for low- or middle-income nations at the time. Vietnam has sustained a similar pace for three decades. Even as global trade slumped in the 2010s, Vietnam’s exports grew 16% a year, by far the fastest rate in the world, and three times the emerging-world average.
He said Vietnam devotes its resources to exports, building roads and ports to get goods overseas and building schools to educate workers, adding that the Vietnamese government annually invests about 8% of GDP each year on new building projects.
According to the article, over the last five years, foreign direct investment has averaged more than 6% of Vietnam’s GDP, the highest rate of any emerging country. Most of it goes to building manufacturing plants and related infrastructure, and most of it now comes from Asian countries, including the Republic of Korea, Japan and China.
Sharma considered Vietnam a favourite destination for export manufacturers. Average annual per capita income in Vietnam has quintupled since the late 1980s to nearly US$3,000 per person. Tech, which surpassed garment and textiles to become Vietnam’s leading export in 2015, accounts for most of the country’s record trade surplus this year.
He also highlighted that in a protectionist era, Vietnam is a trend-bending by signing more than a dozen free trade agreements, including a recent landmark deal with the European Union.
The author concluded the article by saying: “Vietnam looks like a miracle from a bygone era, exporting its way to prosperity.”