Vietnam must work harder to industrialise, said United Nations researcher Ludovico Alcorta at the launch event for the latest UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Industrial Development Report (IDR 2013).

Vietnam, which aims to become an industrialised country by 2020, "has been industrialising rapidly in the last few years," Alcorta said. This was why UNIDO chose it for the launch of the report.

Le Huu Phuc, deputy director general of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)'s International Cooperation Department, agreed with Alcorta that it was necessary for Vietnam to adjust its industrial development policies to grow sustainably.

The new report's key findings and policy implications were "relevant to Vietnam " as the country sought "to find the appropriate policies to address short-term issues", said Phuc.

According to the MoIT official, the country is seeking ways to improve national competitiveness, promote growth, economic structural change and employment.

The country needs to prepare for a structural change because "at some point the country will face decreasing returns, which means the industry will not grow any more," the UN expert said. "Investing in technology is a way to avoid the middle-income trap".

Vietnam is currently a lower middle-income country with per capita income of 2,200 USD.

Experts warn that without major economic structural improvements, the country will fall into the middle-income trap.

One of the report's key themes is that countries need to move from lower-productivity to higher-productivity sectors, industries and activities if they want to develop industrially. The UN expert suggested the country industrialise its agriculture sector to make it more productive and expand the food and beverage industry.

A panel at the event underscored the role of manufacturing and its transformation in employment generation and drew policy implications for inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Vietnam . The country sees inclusive and sustainable industries as a great development opportunity as is stated in the Vietnam Socio-Economic Development Strategy for 2020, according to UNIDO representative in Vietnam Patrick Gilabert.

Training a skilled workforce is essential for sustainable industrial development, according to Alcorta.
Concurring with Alcorta, Ha Xuan Quang, rector of the Hanoi Industry University, said industrial development needed a skillful workforce, yet Vietnam lacked this key resource. He praised the report as a helpful reference for creating policies on training a workforce.

The report, according to vice chairwoman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association Dang Phuong Dung, was an opportunity for Vietnam to "review economic development policies" to find out what challenges the country faced and what breakthroughs could potentially be achieved.

The report provides a detailed account of the structural changes that have taken place over the past 40 years. It also contributes a solid foundation to the debate on jobs in today's world as it indicates that manufacturing provided 470 million jobs, employing around 16 percent of the world's workforce of 2.9 billion in 2009.-VNA