Growth and reform since the Eighth Party Congress
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Growth and reform since the Eighth Party Congress book
At the time of the Eighth Party Congress of the VCP in 1996, Vietnam appeared set to join the ranks of ‘Asian tiger’ economies. The economic reform programme introduced after the Sixth Party Congress in 1986 had gradually decentralised decision-making and replaced central planning with markets and prices, with impressive results. In agriculture, chronic food deficits turned into large export surpluses. Industrial development accellerated when individual firms, mainly stateowned enterprises (SOEs), were allowed to determine their own prices and production. Foreign trade grew rapidly, albeit from a small base, and thousands of foreign investors were attracted to Vietnam, bringing with them more than US $2 billion per year by the mid-1990s. Altogether, the reforms translated into annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates exceeding 9 per cent in the mid-1990s, with corresponding improvements in living standards for large segments of the population.