Vietnam’s GDP Growth Slows in First Quarter as Virus Hits

(Bloomberg) --

Vietnam’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter as the coronavirus outbreak hurt key industries from tourism to manufacturing.

Gross domestic product rose 3.82% from a year earlier, the General Statistics Office in Hanoi said Friday, down from 6.97% previously reported for the last quarter of 2019. That would be the slowest growth since at least 2013, based on Bloomberg data, and compared to a median expectation of 5.1% expansion in a Bloomberg survey of four economists.

Vietnam’s slowdown comes a day after Singapore reported its worst quarterly growth in a decade. Singapore and Thailand now expect their economies to contract significantly this year.

The government is targeting economic expansion of 6.8% this year but has warned growth could slow below 6% for the full year if the virus disruption continues into the second quarter. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc introduced an economic package earlier this month that includes tax cuts, interest-rate cuts for loans and reductions in insurance fees and land-lease costs.

Vietnam’s central bank last week cut its policy interest rates, lowering the refinance rate to 5% from 6%.

Other data points from Friday’s release:

  • Consumer prices rose 4.87% in March compared to a year earlier, slower than expected
  • Exports fell 12.1% year-on-year in March, while imports fell 10.1%
  • March trade surplus was $1 billion
  • Exports rose 0.5% year-on-year in the first quarter, while imports fell 1.9%

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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