Introduction to Vietnam

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, commonly referred to as Vietnam, is a country in Southeast Asia, that borders the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and the East Sea, alongside China, Laos, and Cambodia. Vietnam is a rapidly developing socialist-oriented market economy. Over the past twenty odd years, Vietnam has made a shift from a centrally planned economy to a socialist-oriented market economy. The economy has experienced rapid growth during the period of transition and today, Vietnam is in the process of integrating into the world’s economy.

Economic growth and structure

The year 2015 was the last year for implementing the five-year social-economic development plan (2011-2015). In 2015, the GDP increased by 6.7%, faster than its pace of 6% in 2014 and 5.4% in 2013. The economy has rapidly industrialized over the years with the sectors of industry and construction rising by 9.64%, over the previous year’s growth rate of 6.42%. These sectors contributed 3.20%, of which industry increased by 9.39% in comparison with the previous year (manufacturing rose 10.60%). GDP per capita in 2015 gained VND45.7 million, equivalent to USD2,109, rose USD57 compared to 2014.

In 2015, Vietnam’s total exports reached USD162.4 billion, an increase of 8.1% over 2014, imports reached USD165.6 billion, an increase of 12% over 2014. The composition of GDP by sector is 17% for agriculture, forestry and fishery, 33.25% for industry and construction, and 39.73% for services (product taxes less subsidy product is 10.02%). The corresponding structure of 2014 is: 17.70%; 33.21%; 39.04% (10.05% tax). GDP growth rate in Vietnam averaged 6.15% from 2000 until 2015. Vietnam was one of the few bright spots in Asia last year and the economy closed 2015 with the GDP growth rate of 6.7%. Vietnam’s economic activity moderated in the first half of 2016, with GDP expanding by 5.5%, compared to 6.3% over the same period in 2015. This slow-down is considered a result of severe drought - affecting agricultural production - and slower industrial growth.

Population size and language

The total population in Vietnam was estimated at 91.7 million people in 2015, growth of 1.07% over 2014. Vietnamese is the official language. Vietnamese is a tonal language in which the rise and fall of the voice can change the meaning of the words. In written form, Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to show tones. There are other languages spoken as well: English, Chinese, Khmer, Cham and other minority languages spoken by tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions. English is the most popular foreign language and widely spoken in some urban areas. Moreover, English study is obligatory in most schools.

Business hours/Time zone

A normal working day in Vietnam starts between 7:00 am and 8:30 am and ends between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm, from Monday to Friday and until noon on Saturday, leaving the afternoon and Sunday off. Lunch is taken very seriously and virtually everything shuts down between noon and 1:30 pm. Government workers tend to take longer breaks between 11:30 am and 2:00 pm.

The Time zone is (UTC+07:00).

Related Chapters

Culture and religion in Vietnam

Economy of Vietnam

The Government


Legal System

Regulatory Framework

Banking & Finance

Capital Markets

Land & Housing

Labour Law


Intellectual Property

Selected Sector Regulations

Dispute Resolution

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