The annual Economic Scenarios Conference, titled “Breakthrough opportunities for business growth” opened on March 20 in HCM City. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – The Vietnamese economy’s growth momentum in early 2018 has laid a foundation for expectations of strong economic development throughout the year, said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Hieu.

Hieu made the statement at the annual Economic Scenarios Conference, titled “Breakthrough opportunities for business growth”, which took place in HCM City on March 20.

Organised by the Vietnam Economic Times, the conference attracted the participation of policymakers, senior officials, leading economists and financial experts and executives from 300 enterprises.

Hieu noted that Vietnam’s GDP in the first quarter of 2018 is likely to grow by 7 percent as compared to the same period last year.

The business community is expected to perform better based on reformed policies, favourable market conditions, and human resources development, he said, highlighting the Government’s extensive work in overhauling legal frameworks, facilitating customs clearance, and simplifying administrative procedures related to corporate establishment and taxation, among others.

He added that the Government has also paid attention to supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups.

Tran Du Lich, member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Group, said this year the Government should focus on creating a safe, stable and transparent business environment along with timely incentives for enterprises.

Vu Viet Ngoan, former chairperson of the National Finance Supervisory Council and head of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Group, said he believes inflation would be slightly higher than in 2017, but would still be under control.

This year would have both opportunities and challenges, he said, adding that the most important task for the Government is to control inflation and keep the economy steady.

Having signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) this month and discussing four other free trade agreements, Vietnam is better integrating into the global economy, making the local market more attractive and competitive, participating experts stressed.

They suggested Vietnam create an international “playground” right in the domestic market, thus helping its economic sectors adjust to a free-trade market in the context of extensive global integration.

Warrick Cleine, Chairman and CEO of KPMG Vietnam, said: “FTAs only provide opportunities, not a solution. Vietnam opens its economy, which means greater competition, and the ability of foreign companies to export to Vietnam increases.

“We also need to make sure that businesses are as healthy and strong as possible to compete with foreign companies in Vietnam. They need good strategies, good business plans, making goods and services that people actually want.”-VNA