The forecast was made in the WB's economic update for Vietnam that was released during a press teleconference in Hanoi on January 13.
Entitled “No time to waste: The Challenges and Opportunities of Cleaner Trade for Vietnam”, this edition argued that greening the trade sector should be a priority. Trade, while an important driver of Vietnam’s remarkable economic growth over the past two decades, is carbon-intensive - accounting for one-third of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions - and polluting.
While Vietnam has started to decarbonise activities associated with trade, more need to be done to respond to mounting pressures from main destination markets, customers, and multinational companies for greener products and services, it said.
“Trade will be key component of Vietnam’s climate actions in the years to come,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “Promoting greener trade will not only help Vietnam follow through on its pledge to reach net zero emission in 2050 but will also help it keep its competitive edge in international markets and ensure trade remains a critical income and job generator.”
The report recommended that the Vietnamese Government act on three fronts: facilitate the trade of green goods and services, incentivize green foreign direct investment, and develop more resilient and carbon-free industrial zones.
Assuming the COVID-19 pandemic will be brought under control at home and abroad, the forecast envisioned that Vietnam’s services sector will gradually recover as consumer and investor confidence restores, while the manufacturing sector benefits from steady demand from the US, the European Union, and China. The fiscal deficit and debt are expected to remain sustainable, with the debt-to-GDP ratio projected at 58.8 percent, well below the statutory limit.
The outlook, however, is subject to serious downside risks, particularly the unknown course of the pandemic. Outbreaks of new variants may prompt renewed social distancing measures, dampening economic activity. Weaker-than-expected domestic demand in Vietnam could weigh on the recovery. In addition, many trading partners are facing dwindling fiscal and monetary space, potentially restricting their ability to further support their economies if the crisis persists, which in turn could slow the global recovery and weaken demand for Vietnamese exports.
WB experts said careful policy responses could mitigate these risks. Fiscal policy measures, including temporary reduction of VAT rates and more spending on health and education, could support aggregate domestic demand. Support for affected businesses and citizens could be more substantial and more narrowly targeted. Social protection programmes could be more carefully targeted and efficiently implemented to address the severe and uneven social consequences of the crisis. Heightened risks in the financial sector should be closely monitored and addressed proactively.