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BBC's Frances Harrison in Hanoi
"Economic growth could drop"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 14 December, 1999, 06:30 GMT
Vietnam pledges more progress on economy

Rescuers attempt to reach stranded people This year's floods have hit Vietnam's economy hard


Vietnam is insisting it is not easing up on economic reform, despite evidence foreign investors are increasingly concerned.

Opening a two-day meeting with foreign donors in Hanoi, Deputy Prime Minister, Nguyen Manh Cam, denied any "halt or reluctance or delay" in carrying out reforms.

He said there was no reluctance to pursue the reform process started more than a decade ago by the communist party and outlined six steps to be taken next year to accelerate economic reform.



But analysts say much of the communist party is still unsure whether integrating into the global economy is worth the risks posed to one-party rule and uncompetitive state enterprises.

Donors say government officials attending the two-day meeting in Hanoi may be committed to reform, but others, who are more sceptical, are not involved in the discussions.

Vietnam has continually promised to reform, but says it must be allowed to do so at its own pace - something that's led to growing frustration among the donor countries.

Issue of sustainability

Also speaking at the opening of the meeting, the World Bank's Andrew Steer, suggested he was worried that Vietnam might not be able to maintain the pace of growth achieved in recent years.

"As we stand on the edge of the new millennium, there remain fundamental questions as to the sustainability of these gains," he said.

The questions included the appropriate roles of the state and the private sector in Vietnam's socialist market economy, the pace of global economic integration and the social and cultural costs of transition to a market economy.

Mr Steer said that despite a good recovery in exports, which grew more than 17 percent in the first 11 months, Vietnam had not participated fully in the recovery of the East Asian region.

Poverty

Furthermore, in the absence of reforms, he said Vietnam ran "the risk of becoming one of the slower performers in the region."

Mr Cam said growth in gross domestic product in 1999 would reach 5 percent, although the World Bank puts the estimate closer to 3.5 percent.

The theme of this year's conference is "Attacking Poverty", with an emphasis on delivering development aid to remote populations and channeling more assistance to flood and typhoon-prone areas.

Mr Cam asked donors to consider increasing aid to emergency projects for overcoming floods and improving prevention in vulnerable areas, especially in the central provinces.

More than 700 people perished in two sets of floods which hit the central provinces in the past six weeks.

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See also:
06 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Second flood swamps Vietnam
08 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Aid reaches Vietnam flood victims
05 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Death toll rises in Vietnam
03 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Hundreds die in Vietnam floods

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