Vietnam's growth slides to new 30-year low

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Vietnam has long been a success story among Asian economies, posting growth of seven percent in 2019 (AFP/Nhac NGUYEN)

Vietnam reported economic growth for 2021 of just 2.58 percent on Wednesday, beating a 30-year low set last year as the pandemic continues to take a toll.

The communist state has long been a success story among Asian economies, posting growth of seven percent in 2019.

But shutdowns caused by coronavirus have battered the export-reliant economy, sending GDP growth plunging to 2.91 percent in 2020 -- the lowest reported in three decades.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) in Hanoi said fourth quarter growth was at 5.22 percent, but the annual figure was dragged down by a contraction of 6.02 percent in the third quarter.

"The complicated situation of the Covid-19 pandemic since the end of April seriously impacted commercial and service activities... pulling down the growth of the service sector and the whole economy," GSO said in a statement.

For at least three months, almost the entire country was in complete lockdown, with a huge impact on production, supply chains and businesses.

GSO head Nguyen Thi Huong gave an upbeat gloss, saying that achieving even the modest growth under such difficult circumstances was a "huge success" in remarks reported by state media.

Vietnam is now trying to reopen by shifting away from its strict "zero-covid" policy.

Around 88 percent of adults in Vietnam have been fully vaccinated, the country's health ministry said.

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