What has Vietnam gained after 10 years of WTO membership?

Kim Chi - May 23, 2017 | 07:19 AM GMT+7

While foreign experts say that Vietnam gained more than it lost after joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), some Vietnamese experts say the opposite.

What has Vietnam gained after 10 years of WTO membership?
10 year membership of WTO gains. Photo: Internet

Speaking to Tri Thuc Tre on May 15, Pascal Lamy, former Director General of WTO, stuck to his opinion that Vietnam has gained more than it lost as a WTO member.

Vietnam has been a member of WTO for the last 10 years, during which it has gained great achievements. Lamy said that Vietnam is a success story as it can fully exploit its comparative advantages.

The advantages, as Lamy pointed out, are the high quality of the labor force and productivity. The industries where Vietnam has advantages include electronics, textile & garments, and farm produce.

Vietnam has been developing strongly thanks to expansion of relationships and reform policies, while the market opening has brought big benefits.

Looking back on Lamy’s comments in the past to the local press in 2007, when Vietnam officially because a WTO member, and in 2010, he has had a consistent opinion.

Huynh The Du from the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP), however, commented that in the last 10 years, Vietnam has lost in the home market.

The expert thinks that Vietnam has suffered from the so-called Dutch disease. Vietnam does not lack capital as a huge amount of money has been pumped into the economy, but the money has been flowing into property speculation, thus distorting the national economy.

The view has been advocated by other experts, including Vo Dai Luoc, former head of the Vietnam Economics Institute.

Imports/exports have been increasing but the achievements belong to foreign invested enterprises, not Vietnamese.

“Though exports from Vietnam have higher technology content and the products are more diverse, the products’ added value remains modest,” said Vo Tri Thanh from the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM).

Regarding the trade deficit, Thanh said the situation has improved after 10 years of WTO membership, but the ratio of trade deficit to GDP and on total import/export turnover remains low.

While other WTO member countries can take full advantage of WTO membership to export their goods to Vietnam, Vietnam still cannot fully exploit opportunities to export products to other WTO member countries.

“The WTO member status has exposed Vietnam’s weak points,” Thanh commented.

Meanwhile, Le Huy Khoi from the Trade Research Institute, said Vietnam’s average GDP growth rate in the last 10 years was lower than that in the pre-WTO period.