ASEAN: Vietnam announces “Competitive Index” of 10 economic sectors

KUALA LUMPUR/MALAYSIA, 15JUN08 - Vu Van Ninh, ...

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By Pooky, Thai Intel’s economics journalist

The joke around ASEAN is that Thailand, used to be competing with S. Korea and Taiwan, then it dropped to the Singapore and Malaysia league, then it dropped to the Vietnam and Indonesia league, and if it goes according to the past-Thailand will drop yet again to the Burma and Cambodia league.

But withing the Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia league-what is going on?

Vietnam, for example, now says its GDP in 2010 will surpass the US$100 billion mark-and this is a depressed figure given that Vietnam had devalued its currency many times in the past few years-and this will mean that Vietnam GDP will be at about a third of Thailand’s GDP.

How on earth did Vietnam ever came to be competing with Thailand?

Well, as the article that follows says, Vietnam’s competitiveness index rocketed up 16 places in 2009-while since the 2006 coup-Thailand‘s competitiveness tanked by about 10 places.

Well, that was 2009-2010, but what of the future? The future is more  onslaught from Vietnam-in the form of a competitiveness index on 10 economic sectors in Vietnam.

What that means is that Vietnam is revving up its competitiveness-as Thailand continues to tank.

As Thailand’s “Hothead army chief” as the Bangkok Post calls him, is yet rationalizing the possibility of another coup in Thailand and the current Thai government, that was formed in a military camp and backed by the military-is infested with corruption-from top to bottom and everywhere in between.

“The government is responsible for the recover of Thailand and the growth reflect the government’s capability,” said Thailand’s military backed prime minister.

But the reality of the situation is that Thailand GDP “Great Performance” this year at 7.5% is coming off a very depressed base last year-and that base-off a bunch of other depressed based since the 2006 coup-meaning, given that depressed base-a 7.5% GDP growth is nothing surprising.

In fact in the entire ASEAN region, GDP is growing leaps and bounds. Cambodia for example, has a GDP of about 4.5% this year and Singapore about 15%. A 7.5 GDP growth, is just the average for the ASEAN region.

And yet Thailand’s government is cerebrating that growth-backed up with a star performing stock market, called best performing stock market this year in ASEAN.

That is until the government woke up one day and realized money are pouring back into Thailand’s bond and stock market-coming after years of foreigners pulling money out-and so all that money pouring in, is pushing the Thai currency, Baht, up the most in the region-threatening exports and killing out SMEs.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s and other ASEAN currency did not have such a rocketed run up-and their exports not as threatened.

Overall, practically nothing and Thai Intel means nothing works in Thailand.

For example-Mab Ta Phud investment blockades, 3G telecom blockades, privatization blockades of poorly run state enterprise, massive agriculture product stock sales blockades-the failure list is massive-to the point that it is just entirely ridiculous.

How ridiculous? At the major announcement of a science and technology “master Plan” beef-up plan by the government-some idiotic government minister says the 3G mobile system, that was blocked, and Thai Intel quote: “does not impact Thailand’s technological development.”

Then on top of all of that-the baht hardening, the corruption, all the blockades-what about competitiveness and efficiency.

Well, like in internal trade situation of Thailand says it all: When the baht rises comes government pressure on the private sector to reduce prices since foreign inputs costs less-and when input prices rises, it is the government pressuring the private sector to stall price increase.

That is how efficient Thailand is-just a totally inefficient market where free market forces hardly exists at all.

The following is from the Vietnam Business News:

Vietnamese producers in fields of steel, cement, milk, animal feed and chemical fertilizers are facing fierce competition from foreign rivals, the Competition Management Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said in a report on competitiveness of 10 economic sectors.

Several products of the five sectors, including imported powder milk and construction steel, were slammed for unhealthy competitiveness due to their misleading advertisements, the report, the first of its kind in Vietnam so far, indicated.

Five other sectors comprising aviation, banking, insurance, petroleum distribution and telecommunication, were also criticized for unhealthy competitive behaviors such as abuse of advertisements and discounts to gain market share.

This report is aimed to establish and maintain a fair and healthy competitive environment for all economic sectors in Vietnam, Deputy Director of the Competition Management Department Vu Ba Phu noted, adding that it is expected to raise awareness of competition policies and law among enterprise circles.

General Secretary of the Vietnam Retailers Association Dinh Thi My Loan said the ranking was based on the impact of price changes, consumer responses and concerns about the surveyed industries or products.

The report wording, however, remained “soft and yet fully reflecting customer worries”, Loan added.

Vo Tri Thanh, Deputy Rector of the Central Economic Research and Management Institute who shared the same view with Dr Loan said the report should be subjected to objective evaluation by experts.

During the meeting organized in Hanoi on Oct 14 to announce the report, the Competition Management Department also unveiled a plan to conduct research and supervise the competitive structure of several other economic sectors for inclusion in the annual report.

Vietnam stood at the 59th in the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on September 6, up 16 levels against last year’s report.