Agriculture could be stay for national economy in crisis: expert

Published: 08/03/2009 05:00

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VietNamNet Bridge – IMF has listed Vietnam among the 26 nations which could be fragile in the economic crisis. However, Le Dang Doanh, a senior economist, still believes that Vietnam can overcome difficulties.

Senior Economist Le Dang Doanh

The report of the IMF has reminded us that the world has not recognised Vietnam as a country with a medium income (over $986/capita/year), though last year Vietnam announced income per capita at over $1,000. IMF thinks that Vietnam is a fragile economy.

I think that we need to look at the report and consider the issue seriously, though we don’t have to agree with all the analysis.

Which points of the reports don’t you agree with?

The authors of the reports cannot see the active factors of Vietnam’s economy, which can help Vietnam overcome the impacts of the crisis.

What are the active factors?

Vietnam has an agriculture which can ensure food safety and can make products for export. Though export prices have been going down, countries in the world still have to import essential products like rice, coffee and fish. This is the point that makes me think that Vietnam’s economy will still obtain the economic growth of 5% at least this year. Besides, Vietnam still has other commodities for export, like crude oil, coal, forestry products and seafood, garments and footwear.

What do we need to do for agriculture?

Interests should be divided in a fairer way for farmers. Currently, farmers have to sell paddies cheap, and buy rice high. Distributors can get higher interest rates than farmers.

I think that we need to help farmers, like the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been doing, encouraging agricultural expansion, providing credit, and helping apply science and technologies. Besides, we need to reform the distribution network and exports in order to bring more benefits to farmers.

We also need to make better investments in infrastructure in rural areas. Building paddy depots and improving means of transport prove to be necessary things. It is also necessary to attract investments in order to increase the added value in farm produce, so that we can export not only rice, but instant noodles, and rice sheets, not only coffee beans, but also soluble coffee.

The report by IMF showed that the 26 countries need at least $25bil in 2009 in order to struggle with the economic recession. Do you think that Vietnam now really needs capital support from IMF?

Vietnam has big advantages. It has political and social stability. Besides, it has experience in reforms. IMF did not mention the advantages. 10 years ago, when the regional financial crisis broke out, Vietnam underwent a reform, and used its inner strength well. Vietnam enacted the 1999 Enterprise Law, removed 186 sub-licences, creating favourable conditions for the significant development.

Vietnam now really needs capital, but it still does not need capital from IMF. At the ASEAN summit last week in Hua Hin, ASEAN agreed to the establishment of a $120bil fund. I believe that Vietnam can overcome the difficulties, provided that an effective reform is carried out.

What is your comment about the IMF’s report?

This is information for reference and a warning that merits our attention. I agree with many points of the reports, including the need to continue reforming the disbursement of FDI, international payment and trade balance. However, in the current context, when industries, export and services are facing big difficulties, agriculture will become the firm stay for the national economy. I think it is now the right time for Vietnam to modernise its agriculture.

VietNamNet/TT

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