There are few countries in the world whose economic growth can compare to Vietnam’s. The nation boasts enviable, consistent growth rates which has attracted foreign direct investment, encouraged exports, and strengthened the country from within, spurring domestic demand and spawning a rising middle and upper class.
Learn more about the country’s robust growth below and contact us for help or advice when recruiting in Vietnam.
Historically, the Vietnamese Dong reached an all-time high of 23,360 in November of 2018 and a record low of 13,878 in February of 1999.
The corresponding chart tracks USD-VND values from March 2014 to March 2019. As of 1 March 2019:
Vietnam’s economic growth over the past two decades has been steady and impressive, averaging 5.5% since 1990 and nearly 8% annually through the 1990’s.
The World Bank noted that between 1990 (USD 6.472 billion) and 2016 (USD 205.276 billion), Vietnam’s GDP grew by a whopping 3,303% making it the second-fastest growth rate worldwide, only surpassed by China.
Forecasting an impressive 8.1% GDP in 2021, the highest since 1997
Expecting a 2.7% GDP growth rate for 2020
7.02% GDP growth rate in 2019
7.08% GDP growth rate in 2018
6.8% GDP growth rate in 2017
6.5% GDP growth rate in 2016
Average wages in Vietnam
GDP per capita
Vietnam took just 11 years (from 1995 to 2006) to double its per capita GDP from USD 1,300 to USD 2,600 (according to McKinsey & Co, 2014).
GDP per capita was USD 6,876 in 2017.
A joint report released in 2016 by the Vietnamese government and the World Bank suggested that Vietnam could achieve upper-middle income status by 2035 with per capita income of more than USD 7,000, which is in the range of what Malaysia or South Korea experienced in the mid-2000’s.
As of a 2016 report from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO), median wages sit just below 6 million VND a month.
Vietnam's rising middle and upper class
Vietnam’s middle class population – currently at 10% – is believed to be the fastest growing in Southeast Asia.
The middle class earning USD 714 a month or more in Vietnam will double to 33 million people, about a third of the population, between 2014 and 2020, according to Boston Consulting Group.
Meanwhile, market research firm Nielsen has estimated that the number of middle class Vietnamese will reach 44 million by 2020 and 95 million by 2030.
This would require Vietnam to grow at least 7% per year, raising the average income level to over USD 7,000 (or USD 18,000 in purchasing-power parity terms) by 2035 (compared with USD 2,052 – or USD 5,370 in PPP terms – in 2014).
The aforementioned report also noted that over the last decade, the number of millionaires in Vietnam has tripled. As of 2016, Vietnam boasts the world’s fastest growing percentage of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, which they define as those having a net worth of at least USD 30 million.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
The ASEAN Economic Community was formally established in December 2015, and since then, McKinsey has reported that the ten member states have been moving toward greater economic and community integration on a number of fronts.
Those ten countries have a total population of more than 650 million people.
Their combined economies would currently rank as the 7th largest economy in the world, an economic footprint that is projected to grow to become the 4th largest in the world by 2050.
67 million households in ASEAN states are part of the “consuming class,” with incomes exceeding the level at which they can begin to make significant discretionary purchases. That number could almost double to 125 million households by 2025, making ASEAN a pivotal consumer market of the future.
Business environment in Vietnam
The number of newly established enterprises in Vietnam in 2017 hit a record high of 126,859 and was up by 15.2% from 2016. The government aimed to boost this further, with a 2018 target of 135,000.
Private investment is projected to benefit from Vietnam having risen 14 places in the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings for 2018.
Big business in Vietnam
According to McKinsey, the number of companies headquartered in country with more than USD 1 billion in revenue in 2010 was:
According to the Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, over the past 30 years, foreign direct investment (FDI) has become an important part of the economy. FDI has:
Created 27% of the GDP
Accounted for 70% of export turnover
Contributed to 17% of the state budget
Generated employment for ~9 million local workers
Employment and industry in Vietnam
Fading as the most important economic sector in Vietnam.
Still employs almost half of the population and is highly labour-intensive in Vietnam; much ploughing is still done by water buffalo.
Agriculture is the main source of raw materials for the processing industries and a major contributor to exports (mining in the north and rubber plantations in the south).
Rice is the most important crop. Other major crops are sugarcane, cassava (manioc), corn (maize), sweet potatoes, nuts, banana, coconut, mango, jackfruit, citrus, coffee and tea.
Manufacturing accounts for a mere 8% of all employment.
The output value of both manufacturing and services surpassed that of agriculture in the early 1990’s.
By the early 21st century, services accounted for roughly one-fourth of total employment.
Growth needs of Vietnam
Growth till now
Growth has been driven by rising foreign direct investment, vigorous export growth, strengthening agriculture, and robust domestic demand.
Growth in the future
Closing the country’s widening skills gap is key to remaining attractive to foreign investors and sustaining growth.
The corresponding visual shows Vietnam’s top ten export categories in 2018, which may affect interest in study courses and post-study employment, given their importance to the country’s economic growth.
Additionally, in the service sector, demand is high for:
Marketing and market research
Hospitality and tourism
Graduate salaries in Vietnam and Southeast Asia
A recent report from JobStreet revealed that the job market is bright for fresh university graduates, with wages growing year on year.
Recruiting in Vietnam
BMI runs more than 80 events in over a dozen countries each year. Join these events in Vietnam to recruit students directly via our fairs and attend our peer-to-peer events to build connections with high school counsellors and recruitment agents.
BMI's biannual Vietnamese student recruitment fairs consistently draw in thousands of academically-oriented students and their parents to bring them in direct contact with institutions from around the world. BMI also takes a limited number of accredited institutions on chauffeured visits to top-rated private high schools in both cities.