Prolonged COVID-19 waves pose real challenges on Vietnamese policy makers to sail the economy through hard times in 2021.
Economic decleratation was inevitable as the country had to close borders to foreign tourists from March 2020 and to impose domestic travel to prevent transission of the virus to the wider communities.
In 2021, the GDP only increased by 2.58 percent and 4.72 percent from the same periods of the previous year, before shrinking to unprecedented low of 6.02 percent in the third quarter.
Industrial production was estimated to increase by 4.45 percent in the first quarter and 11.18 percent in the second quarter before decreasing by 3.5 percent in the third quarter.
In July-September period, about 1.9 million people lost jobs in comparison with the preceeding quarter. Consumer price index rose by 0.93 percent against the previous quarter and 2.51 percent against the same period of 2020.
COVID-19 pushed Vietnam down to the last place on the Nikkei COVID-19 recovery index, with the Southeast Asian country slipping 20th places in two months, from 100th in June to 120th in August 2021.
Despite numberous difficulties caused by waves of COVID-19, the Government made a bold move on October 11, 2021 by issuing Resolution No. 128 interim regulations on safe and flexible adaptation to COVID-19 pandemic.
The Resolution indicated the Government's change of mindset, shifting from zero-COVID policy to safe and flexible adaptation to the pandemic, creating room for economic recovery and social stability.
The Resolution required local authorities to quickly identify and stamp out COVID-19 as soon as possible while the Ministry of Health must continue taking measures to strengthen the capacity of grassroots healthcare system and effectively implement the national vaccination strategy.
Not a mere percentage
On March 8. 2021, Vietnam began to launch COVID-19 vaccination thanks to the Government's drastic efforts to purchase vaccines and call on international partners and friends to donate and share the vaccines.
Within months, Vietnam became one of the six countries with highest COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the world, with almost 100 percent of individuals aged 18 and above receiving at least one shot and 95 percent of them being fully innoculated.
Commenting on the Government's efforts, Ms. Rana Flowers, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Vietnam remarked: "The high vaccination coverage is not a mere percentage. More importantly, it means lives saved from hospitalization and death, health facilities spared from being overwhelmed and more communities with revived local economies."
Vietnam's management of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years has "set a standard", including having one of the highest vaccination acceptance rates in the world, said Flowers at a event held in Ha Noi on March 14, 2021.
The leadership of the government coupled with the solidarity of its people throughout this period would stand as a key lesson of the pandemic era, Flowers emphasized.
On September 29, 2022, the General Statistics Office reported that the economy expanded 13.76 percent in the third quarter compared to 7.72 percent in the second quarter and 5.05 percent in the first quarter.
In the first nine months this year, the GDP growth accelerated to 8.83 percent, the highest growth rate against the same period since 2011.
Industrial production expanded 9.6 percent in January-September period, compared to 3.9 percent of the same period last year.
International organizations spoke highly of Vietnam's performance over the past months and regularly revise up the country's GDP growth prospects.
Most recently, the Singapore-headquartered United Overseas Bank (UOB) upgraded its forecast for Vietnam's GDP growth to 8.2 percent in 2022 from the previous prediction of 7 percent.
Vietnam's GDP expansion of 13.7 percent in the third quarter is a record quarterly growth rate. The nation surpassed the rate of 13.5 percent of India to become the highest in Asia this year.
The border reopening and easing of travel restrictions since the beginning of 2022 has helped fuel business activities since the second quarter, especially in the service sector, noted the UOB.
Earlier, the World Bank predicted Vietnam's economy was projected to grow by 7.2 percent in 2022, on the back of a strong rebound in domestic demand and continued solid performance by export-oriented manufacturing.
Vietnam has seen strong recovery in the post-COVID-19 period, noted Country Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Vietnam Andrew Jeffries in a recent interview with the VGP.
The country's vaccination campaign and effective measures launched in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed economic activities to come back, he underscored.
More than five months since the issuance of the Resolution, the Government decided to reopen borders to foreign arrivals from March 15, 2022, with foreigners only required to show negative COVID-19 test result.
The Government also lifted quarantine requirement for foreign arrivals.
Many foreign tourists said they are excited and ready to visit Vietnam as soon as possible as the country scrapped entry restrictions after inbound tourism reopening.
Ben Teh from Singapore said he was glad that Vietnam is finally opening with relaxed entry rules and he can plan his trip to meet his friends.
"This is actually good news. It has been two years since I visited Vietnam. Miss my friends in Ho Chi Minh City," Teh told VnExpress International in March 2022.
"Lifting the quarantine restriction is good news for those looking for a short trip as no one would visit Vietnam with the previous three-day quarantine rule," he added.
Two months later, the Government decided to scrap the COVID-19 testing requirement for all arrivals (starting from May 15, 2022).
The decision was made as the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths dropped both in Vietnam and around the world. In addition, several countries had been taking steps to relax coronavirus restrictions, including scrapping testing before entry.