Vietnam Market Watch: The Path to Middle Class Status, Labor Shortages, and Reduced Transport Fares

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Report by World Bank Urges Reforms to Reach Upper Middle Income Status by 2035

The World Bank released its Vietnam 2035 report titled: ‘Towards prosperity, creativity, equity and democracy’. The report outlines the need for the country to foster private sector competitiveness, promote social inclusion, and boost the state’s effectiveness at climbing up the economic ladder. The report indicates that the economy needs to grow at seven percent per year for the Vietnam to reach upper middle income status by 2035. As of 2014, Vietnam’s average income level in purchasing-power parity (PPP) terms was US $2,052; a figure that will need to be raised to US $18,000 by 2035 in order to achieve middle income status.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim also stated that the country will need to remove barriers that exclude marginalized groups and deliver quality public services to an aging and urbanizing middle class population. The report stated that such aspirations will depend on three pillars – economic prosperity, balanced with environmental sustainability; equity and social inclusion; and state capacity and accountability. The joint report was prepared by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the World Bank and external experts from Vietnam.

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Farming, Engineering, other Sectors to Face Labor Shortage

Labor experts have forecast that the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors will face a shortage of 3.2 million workers by 2020. The development comes as a result of human resources policies adopted in 2010, which set a 2020 target for skilled laborer penetration of 50 percent up from 2010’s prevailing rate of 15.5 percent. An official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that around one million workers are required in these sectors every year.

While entrance test scores at universities for these sectors remains low, the facilities are not able to recruit enough students. In addition, there is also a high demand for mechanical engineering, chemicals, bio-technology and industrial electricity graduates. Such sectors currently meet 50 to 60 percent of the labor market demand. However, not many people want to join the sector due to the heavy workload according to analysts. Nevertheless, such sectors offer better chances for employment with higher salaries than many other industries.

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Transport Firms Ordered to Reduce Fares Due to Falling Gasoline Prices

Taxi companies including Mai Linh and Vinasun agreed to reduce fares on 26 February after the Ministry of Finance ordered transport companies to adjust fares following a reduction in local gasoline prices. Mai Linh, one of the biggest companies reduced its fares to a range of US $0.58 to $0.72 per 0.6 miles depending on the vehicle size. The authorities have urged transport businesses to calculate prices and publicize these new fares after complaints were received by the Finance Ministry that several taxi and bus companies did not revise fares.

Gasoline prices account for 25 to 35 percent of passenger fares but several companies are reluctant to cut prices when demand is high. Analysts blame ineffective pricing regulations. In addition to transport fares, Vietnamese airlines have also decided to cut airfares due to falling costs. National carrier Vietnam Airlines is offering discounts ranging from 9 to 80 percent on domestic and international routes, while low-carriers Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific are giving up to 100 percent discounts. 


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