Viet Nam Country Dialogue 2002
March 20, 2002
In March 2002, the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD) held a Country Dialogue In Vietnam, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UNDP Vietnam office. The IPD team included Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, K.S. Jomo from University of Malaysia, Gerard Roland from University of California at Berkeley, and Shari Spiegel from IPD at Columbia University.
The Dialogue consisted of a series of policy forums, including individual meetings with Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Nguyen Manh Cam, and a public lecture by Professor Joseph Stiglitz to 700 students and faculty from local universities. The 2002 Country Dialogue followed up on IPD's earlier Vietnam Dialogue, held in June 2001.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
New York, New York, United States
At the time of the first IPD Dialogue in 2001, Nong Duc Manh had just been named the General Secretary of the Communist Party. Vietnam was about to embark on a program of trade and investment liberalization with far-reaching policy, regulatory, legal, social and institutional implications.
In December 2001 Vietnam ratified the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) with the US. By our second Dialogue in March 2002 Vietnam was in pursuit of WTO accession. The discussions focused on trade policy, new enterprise development vs. privatization and restructuring of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), rural development, and financial sector and capital market liberalization.
Throughout the forums, the IPD team stressed the need for dialogue and discussion of policy options. Professor Stiglitz presented alternative theories of development and emphasized the importance of distinguishing between means and ends. Policies such as inflation targets, exchange rate stability, privatization, and liberalization should not be viewed as ends in themselves. These are tools to achieve long-term goals of sustainable growth and higher living standards. The wrong mix of policies, and an excessive focus on means, can block the development process.