2+2 = more work to be done

Vietnam has been wooing multinationals, touting its high-literacy rate. But those numbers need to be analysed closely and the government needs to improve education.
Vietnamese pupils at a primary school
Vietnamese pupils at a primary school

Macau has established itself as the region’s gambling capital. Thailand leads the region with its medical tourism. And India is the world’s IT and telecommunications-services hub. Vietnam is focusing on manufacturing to help move it to the next level. And let’s face it, Vietnam has made impressive strides. Between 1990 and 2008, it reduced the poverty rate to 14.5% from 58.1%, according to the UN.

“But manufacturing isn’t going to raise the standard of living to a middle-class society,” noted a banker on a recent trip to Hanoi.

She argued that low-end manufacturing is a short-term fix. Taking the leftovers from China may provide work now, but it’s not a sustainable long-term economic...

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