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Vietnam Braces for Hard Landing Amid World Trade Tensions

Vietnam Braces for Hard Landing Amid World Trade Tensions

If a rising tide lifts all boats, then Vietnam may find that there is a related saying in economics: when the tide goes out, you will see who was swimming naked.

The Southeast Asian country has fared fairly well amid the trade frictions around the world, with its foreign investment and gross domestic product continuing to grow. But even Vietnam is not immune if a recession hits the global economy, as some are expecting, which is why they are bracing for a hard landing. News this week that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to increase tariffs on Chinese goods has just added to the frictions, sending Asian stock markets plummeting.

An economic downturn — in other words, the tide going out — could expose vulnerabilities for Vietnam, the equivalent of those swimming naked. Most analysts are forecasting slower GDP growth for Vietnam in the year ahead.

Economic slowdown ahead

It “is important to recognize that the region continues to face heightened pressures that began in 2018 and that could still have an adverse impact,” said Andrew Mason, who is acting as the chief economist for the World Bank in the East Asia and Pacific region. “Continued uncertainty stems from several factors, including further deceleration in advanced economies, the possibility of a faster-than-expected slowdown in China, and unresolved trade tensions.”

His office projects the Vietnamese economy will expand 6.6 percent in 2019, while researchers at Capital Economics peg growth at an even lower rate of 6 percent year-on-year. That compares with the annualized rate of 7.1 percent in 2018.