GDP: $93 billion*/$2,900 per capita (2009)

GDP change: +5.3 percent (2009)

Population: 89.6 million

Unemployment: 6.5 percent (April 2009 est.)

Textile and apparel exports to U.S.: $5.8 billion, year to date through November 2010, an 18.6 percent increase from the same period in 2009.

Key products: Cotton, women’s and girls’ knit blouses, women’s and girls’ slacks, cotton underwear, synthetic dresses.

Currency: 17,620 dong = $1

For all of its market-oriented reforms in the past five years, Vietnam is still working within the confines of a centrally planned economy. However, its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2007 helped reinforce reforms in its domestic economy and has led to job creation — more than one million a year — and a reduction in poverty, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The global recession had a significant impact on Vietnam’s export-oriented economy, with gross domestic product growing less than 7 percent on average annually. The country’s exports fell 10 percent year-over-year in 2009, but export growth rebounded last year. It is the fastest-growing apparel and textile producer in the world and considered the top alternative sourcing market to China, which is facing extreme upward pressures in labor and raw materials costs. Vietnam’s apparel and textile exports to the U.S. rose 32.6 percent from January to November 2010 compared with the same period a year earlier. It now controls a 5.15 percent share of the U.S. apparel and textile import market and shipped 2.6 billion square meter equivalents, valued at $5.8 billion, in the first 11 months of 2010.

Vietnam could get a considerable boost in apparel orders if the Obama administration finalizes negotiations of a Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade accord, which could give the country duty free access to the U.S. market.

*Based on official exchange rates

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