Regional Economic Outlook, May 2006: Asia and Pacific

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However, US trade tensions with China, the threat of inflation, and increasing automation could weigh on future growth. Vietnam continues to ride the wave of foreign investment and low-cost manufacturing. Its robust trade ties are likely to support export-driven growth in the medium term. There are other risks too—wages are rising quicker than productivity, and automation in manufacturing could possibly displace millions of workers over the next decade or two. Subscribe to receive economics content updates.

Joint Press Statement of the 19th ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Bangkok, 23 May 2006

Strong global demand resulted in manufacturing output accelerating for the third straight month in June. As a result, manufacturers have been hiring more workers.

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However, foreign direct investment FDI seems to be diversifying away from the sector in recent times figure 2. From to , newly registered FDI in manufacturing accounted for 70 percent of all newly registered FDI in the economy.

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  5. Total exports increased a robust 16 percent from a year ago in the first half of Key manufacturing verticals—phones, electronics, textiles, and footwear—accounted for 50 percent of all exports during the same period. Foreign investment into these sectors is therefore unlikely to dry up any time soon especially as Vietnam continues to sign free trade agreements.

    Vietnam has been ahead of the game when it comes to signing free trade deals—the country has signed 16 bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements. For instance, the recent trade deal with the European Union—which is expected to be ratified in —will eliminate import tariffs on 99 percent of all goods within a decade and therefore allow Vietnamese manufacturers access to the vast and wealthy European consumer market, while members of the European Union can tap into Vietnam and the ASEAN region. However, trade tensions between the United States and China could pose a threat.

    Vietnam Economic Outlook | Deloitte Insights

    In the short term though, tariffs imposed on China might just benefit Vietnam. Low-cost manufacturers are likely to expedite plans to shift production from China, where wages are already considerably higher, to Vietnam. This trend is likely to continue through the medium term. However, low-cost, labor-intensive manufacturing can come with its set of problems. In Vietnam, one such problem is that labor productivity has not kept pace with rising wages figure 3.

    Over the medium term, the gap between productivity growth and wage growth could drive up costs, making Vietnam a less competitive manufacturing base. Even though productivity has increased 36 percent from to , Vietnam is still behind regional competitors—productivity in Vietnam is a third of that in Thailand, while the average monthly wage in Vietnam is a little more than half of that in Thailand. And even as productivity increased 36 percent between and , average real wages doubled during roughly the same period.

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    Furthermore, the ratio of minimum wage to average labor productivity increased from 25 percent in to 50 percent in The Meeting highlighted the role of the ARF as an active forum to coordinate and enhance regional effort in cooperation on counter-terrorism and to address regional security issues. The Meeting agreed to enhance cooperation to fight transnational crime, including narcotics, trafficking in persons, illegal arms smuggling and money-laundering. The Meeting pointed out that technical assistance and capacity-building were important for ASEAN to deal with these problems effectively.

    The Meeting emphasized the importance of closer cooperation on avian influenza, including the training of personnel, establishment of information sharing system and coordination of national pandemic preparedness plans. It discussed the possibility to establish a surveillance diagnosis centre to serve as a regional information centre.

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    The Meeting expressed concern over the continued increase of the price of oil which could undermine economic development of countries in the region. The Meeting discussed cooperation on disaster management and emergency response. It recognized the importance of establishing a network of national and regional Tsunami early warning systems. The Meeting invited the members of the U.

    Dialogue in the U. Dialogue Bangkok, 23 May Dialogue Bangkok, 23 May 1. May 16th,