About Vietnam

Official name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Location: South-eastern Asia
(borders China, Laos and Cambodia)
Population: 83.5 million
Form of state: One-party rule
Government type: Communist state
Head of state: President
Economy: Open-market
GDP: $227.2 billion (2004)
GDP growth rate: 7.7% (2004)

While Vietnam continues to be ruled by one of the last remaining communist governments, during the past ten years the country has managed to overcome many of the negative stereotypes associated with this institution. Its economy is rated the second highest in Asia and relations with the United States are at an all time high.

The past decade has proved to be the beginning of a new history for Vietnam; one of great effort and achievement. Since former U.S. President Bill Clinton removed the economic sanctions placed on the country after the Vietnam War, it has achieved more than many would have thought possible. In 1993, the World Bank speculated that 58% of those living in Vietnam were living in poverty; as of 2002 that number was approximated at 29%.

This is thanks, in good part, to policies implemented by the government in the late 1980s (economic reforms referred to as the "doi moi" or “renewal” policies) which allow for an open-market economy and a more accessible private sector. The 2001 Vietnamese Constitution took these policies one step further, stating that no restriction would be imposed on the private sector, whatsoever. The agricultural reform, which supplied land to poor farmers in need of assistance, was another move made in the spirit of the “doi moi” policies.

These steps and others taken by both the Vietnamese and American governments have allowed for trade to grow between North America and Vietnam in leaps and bounds. Since 1995 trade has risen from $451 million to $6.4 billion in 2004. In 2003 more than 8% of the country's Gross Domestic Product was attributed to direct foreign investment.


Major exports 2004 % of total
Major imports 2004 % of total
Crude oil 22.1
Machinery & equipment 17.5
Textiles & garments 17.1
Refined petroleum 11.5
Footwear 10.5
Steel 8.3

Leading markets 2003 % of total
Leading suppliers 2003 % of total
US 22.1
China 14.1
Japan 14.5
South Korea 12.0
Australia 7.7
Japan 11.4
China 6.6
Singapore 10.7

*(see "Sources")

Although Vietnam is a generous supplier of commodities such as pepper, coffee and crude oil, the country is not limited to this sector alone. It has become a prominent producer of commoditized products such as footwear and garments, and is involved in the highly specified sub-sector of vehicle assembly.

In a landmark conference on June 21st of this year, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai met with American President George Bush to discuss relations between the countries. Prime Minister Khai is the highest ranking Vietnamese official to visit the White House since the end of the Vietnam War. The world leaders discussed military and economic ties, as well as Vietnam’s desire to join the World Trade Organization, a goal supported by Mr. Bush.

Foreign Companies:

There are currently a large number of international businesses that have formed commercial ties with Vietnam. Below are a few examples:

AP Moller- Maersk Group [Maersk Sealand / Maersk Logistics]
Mitsubishi Motors [Vina Star Motors Corporation (VSM)]
Prime Cargo Co. Ltd. [Prime Cargo Vietnam Ltd.]
Samsung [Samsung Vina]
Friesland Foods [Dutch Lady Vietnam]
Toyota [Toyota Vietnam]
Royal Haskoning [Haskoning Vietnam]
Suzuki [Suzuki Vietnam]
ScanCom International A/S [ScanCom Veitnam]
Honda [Honda Vietnam]
Akzo Nobel [Organon Vietnam]
BlueScope Steel [BlueScope Steel Vietnam Limited]
Ford [Ford Vietnam]
Toshiba [Toshiba Vietnam Consumer Products Co.]
Yamaha [Yamaha Motor Vietnam]
Fujifilm [Fujifilm Vietnam]
Mercedes-Benz [Mercedes-Benz Vietnam]
LG Electronics [LG Electronics Vietnam]