HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s economic growth slowed this year to its weakest in at least three decades, buffeted by the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and a sluggish global economy, government data showed on Sunday.
The economy expanded 2.91% this year after having posted gross domestic product growth above 7% for two consecutive years, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said in a statement.
The country likely posted a trade surplus of $19.06 billion in the year the GSO said. Average consumer prices rose 3.23%.
“This is the lowest GDP growth level in decades. However, amid the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is considered a success for Vietnam, with the growth rate among the world’s highest,” the GSO said.
“We’ve successfully battled against the virus but at the same time kept our economy open. The pandemic is more or less under control in Vietnam.”
With strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam quickly contained coronavirus outbreaks, allowing economic activity to rebound faster than in much of Asia. The country has recorded 1,440 coronavirus infections, with 35 deaths.
The processing and manufacturing industry grew 3.98%, remaining the main growth driver for the economy, while services sector rose 2.34% and the agricultural sector was up 2.68%, the statement added. Exports and foreign investment were robust.
For October to December, the economy grew 4.48% from a year earlier, the slowest rate for a fourth quarter since at least 2011, the statistics office said. It revised third-quarter growth to 2.69%, up from 2.62%.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by William Mallard)