Vietnam's growth accelerates, bucking regional trend

 Women sell rice at their streetside stalls in Hanoi, Vietnam. A strong performance by export-orientated manufacturing and the service sector means the country looks set to beat official projections.
Women sell rice at their streetside stalls in Hanoi, Vietnam. A strong performance by export-orientated manufacturing and the service sector means the country looks set to beat official projections.PHOTO: EPA

HANOI (AFP) - Vietnam's economic growth accelerated in the third quarter, official figures showed Tuesday, boosted by strong foreign manufacturing investment, in stark contrast to many of its neighbours.

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose 6.81 per cent in the third quarter, according to General Statistics Office estimates, up from 6.47 per cent in the second quarter and 6.12 percent in the first quarter this year.

"It is good news if the figure is reliable... it seems that the Vietnamese economy has fewer difficulties this year," economist Phan Chi Lan told AFP.

A strong performance by export-orientated manufacturing and the service sector - which expanded 6.17 per cent in the first nine months of the year - means the country looks set to beat official projections.

The government has been targeting full-year growth of 6.2 per cent.

"Vietnam is the only country with strong export growth amid contracting exports among its regional peers," an ANZ Banking Group research note said this week.

The Asian Development Bank last week forecast the country's GDP to grow 6.5 percent for 2015 - the strongest growth of six major Southeast Asian economies tracked by the bank.

Dwindling inflation - the lowest in over a decade, according to official figures - and lower energy costs have helped boost domestic consumption. This also gives Vietnam's central bank room for monetary easing.

In August, the central bank weakened the dong's reference rate for the third time this year, doubling the currency's trading band after China devalued the yuan.