Vietnam Faces Economic Meldown

Provided by Bill Laurie

Thomas Fuller
August 2012


CONSTRUCTION crews got as far as the first floor of what was to be Saigon Residence, a high-end apartment building in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. All that remains today of the abandoned project are piles of moldy bricks, rusting steel rods and a small team of security guards who have transformed the cement foundation into a parking lot for motorcycles.

The arrest this week of Nguyen Duc Kien, one of Vietnam's wealthiest businessmen, set off a 4.8 per cent plunge in the country's stock market index on Tuesday, the biggest drop in four years.
The charges against Kien are vague. The state news media said he was accused of illegal business activity.
The opaque way his case is being handled underlines a key aggravating factor for the country's woes: the awkward marriage between a secretive Communist Party leadership and a capitalist economy is clouding recovery prospects for the country of 91 million people.
The private sector is helping keep the economy moving -- Vietnam is a major exporter of clothing and footwear to the United States -- but foreign money flows have slowed.
Commitments by foreign investors were US$8 billion (RM25 billion) for the first half of this year, one-quarter the level during the same period three years ago.

Read more: Vietnam faces economic meltdown - Columnist - New Straits Times