The defense encompasses (2006) 455,000 standing forces
and is based on general military duty with an initial
service of two years, some specialists three years. It has
not been noticeably reduced in the last twenty years. The
army (412,000 men) is organized into 3 mechanized divisions,
10 armored brigades, 1 air landing brigade, 58 infantry
divisions/regiments of varying size and a large number of
artillery and engineering units. The Navy (40,000 men) has
11 larger battleships, about 37 patrol boats and 6
amphibious vessels. The Air Force (15,000 men) has about 220
fighter planes and 26 combat helicopters. Semi-military
forces amount to 4-5 million militia and 40,000 border
guards. The material is older or semi-modern and mainly of
Soviet origin, e.g. 70 T-62 tanks and 140 MiG 21 fighters. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that VNM stands for Vietnam.
Vietnam's foreign policy
Vietnam pursues an active foreign policy and was a member
of the UN Security Council in 2008-2009. Vietnam is also one
of eight "pilot countries" in the United Nations Unification
Program "One UN", which aims at better coordination of
various UN agencies. Norway has contributed to the new
carbon neutral UN building, named UN One in Hanoi.
Following a previous bitter enmity, relations with China
are improving, although there is still disagreement about
where the border should be drawn with accuracy in the South
China Sea (which Vietnam calls the East Sea). Increasingly,
China has become an important trading partner for Vietnam.
Economic integration is high on the foreign policy agenda.
The trade agreement with the United States has made the
United States Vietnam's largest export market. Close ties
are being made to neighboring Cambodia and Laos.
Vietnam's tiger jump
In the economic sphere, in the early 1990s, Vietnam
showed the same economic outlook as its neighbors - the
so-called "tiger countries". Privatization and the
liberalization of foreign investment brought the growth in
gross domestic product (GDP) to 8.3% in 1992. At the same
time, export volume had risen 20% from the previous year. By
Vietnamese standard, a "poor" family is determined by not
being able to buy 13 kg of rice per day. person per month. A
"starving" family is determined not to even be able to buy 8
kg. At the same time, however, the high economic growth had
a number of negative consequences. Environmental problems
worsened - especially in cities - and the state's diminished
control meant an increase in social problems such as
prostitution, corruption and crime.
The country's foreign economy is predominantly dependent
on 2 products: Rice and to a lesser extent oil. Since 1989,
Vietnam has become the third largest rice exporter after
Thailand and the United States. As long as oil production
has not yet played a significant role in the country's
exports, the dependence on a single export product makes the
country vulnerable to the international price fluctuations
on rice. And these prices are falling, while at the same
time losing part of the production due to lack of stocks to
collect the rice.
The most important rice production takes place in the
Mekong Delta in the south, and at the same time its exports
especially benefit the south, thereby contributing to
reinforcing the imbalance between the two parts of the
country. With more than 5 million inhabitants, Ho Chi Minh
City is almost twice the capital of Hanoi, the country's
economic capital and seems to have made it easier to adapt
to the new times than the north.
Trade development takes place in a country that is
predominantly an agricultural country. 57 million out of 70
million Vietnamese live on agriculture, which remains the
backbone of the economy and society. As a result, the
government has given farmers a number of benefits such as
loans and long-term lease agreements, tax cuts and the right
to inherit land of up to 3 hectares. However, private
ownership of the land has not yet been completely freed. The
larger farmers instead use the so-called Use Rights for the
Earth, which they can transfer, sell or rent.
Even today, the consequences of several decades of war in
the country are being felt, with an economy that is still
oriented to the needs of the war. Large parts of the country
continue to be desolate as a result of the use of napalm and
of decaying agents such as "Agent Orange". The
infrastructure - ie. telecommunications, roads and
electricity supply - has only recently been fully restored
following loans from the World Bank and the Asian
Development Bank. Military weapons that have not yet
exploded - such as mines - continue to be a serious problem.
Especially in the central parts of the country.
In 1993, GDP per capita inhabitant one of the lowest in
Asia with US $ 220-350 per year. or approx. one-sixth of the
level in Thailand and one-twentieth of the level in South
Korea. Unemployment and underemployment are at 30%, while
the black economy and smuggling are growing.
The US trade blockade against Vietnam began to wrap up in
January 1993, when a commission of U.S. senators concluded
that there was no evidence of the presence of North American
prisoners of war in Vietnam. In February 1994, US President
Bill Clinton announced the lifting of the 19-year trade