Viet Nam’s economy and society in the first months of 2019 took place in the context of the slowdown trend in world economy with increasing risk factors and challenges. World trade and investment activities decreased, disagreement among powerful countries on shaping the global trading system was increasingly deep. The trend of increasing interest rates, unpredictable fluctuations in international financial and monetary markets and oil prices were complicated, affecting credit growth, market sentiment and expectations.[1]. The increasing trend of populism, production and trade protection, and geopolitical changes were also challenges to the world economy and influenced Viet Nam’s economy. In the country, thanks to the advantages of impressive results achieved in 2018, the economy in the first months of the year continued to change positively, the macro economy was stable, inflation was controlled at a low level, but also encountered many difficulties and challenges such as slow growth of some key export products; low disbursement of public investment; complicated situation of climate change, natural disasters, and animal diseases.

With the motto of “Discipline, integrity, action, creativity and efficiency”, right from the first days and the first months of the year, the Government, the Prime Minister drastically directed the ministries, agencies, and localities to focus on synchronous and effective implementation of goals, tasks, and solutions in Resolutions of the Party, National Assembly and Government. As a result, the socio-economic situation in the first quarter of 2019 continued to change positively.

Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the first quarter achieved a quite growth of 6.79%; the macroeconomics was stable; the inflation was curbed at the lowest level in the three years 2017-2019. Investment and business environment has been improved; newly established enterprises achieved the highest increase in the last 5 years. Unemployment and underemployment rate tended to decrease. Social security was cared about. The expansion of production capacity of the economy created the momentum for Viet Nam economy to develop in the next quarters of 2019”.

  1. Gross Domestic Products (GDP) Growth

GDP in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated to increase by 6.79% over the same period last year, though lower than the growth rate in the first quarter of 2018, it was higher than the increase rate in the first quarter of years 2011-2017[2]. In the general economic growth, the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector went up by 2.68%, contributing 4.9% to the overall growth rate; the industry and construction sector moved up by 8.63%, contributing 51.2%; the service sector expanded by 6.5%, contributing 43.9%.

In the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector, the agriculture increased by 1.84% from the same period last year, much lower than the growth rate of 3.97% in the first quarter of 2018, contributing 0.17 percentage points to the growth rate of the whole economy’s total value added; the forestry jumped up by 4.2%, contributing only 0.03 percentage point due to the low proportion; the fishery put up by 5.1%, the highest growth rate in the first quarter of the last 9 years[3], contributing 0.14 percentage point.

In the sector of industry and construction, the industry expanded by 8.95% compared with the same period last year, contributing 3.14 percentage points to the growth rate of the whole economy‘s total value added. The main growth driver of the economy in the first quarter of 2019 is the manufacturing industry with an increase of 12.35%, though lower than the growth rate of 14.3% in the first quarter of 2018, it was higher than the increase rate in the first quarter of the years 2012-2017[4], contributing greatly to the growth rate of the total value added with 2.72 percentage points. The mining and quarrying in the first quarter of this year still saw a negative growth (a decrease of 2.2%), reducing 0.15 percentage point of the growth rate of the whole economy‘s total value added due to the decreasse of 10.3% in crude oil output and 2.4% in natural gas output. The construction in the first 3 months of this year maintained a relatively high growth rate of 6.68%, contributing 0.39 percentage point.

In the service sector, the contribution of a number of industries with a large share to the growth was as follows: Wholesale and retail sales increased by 7.82% over the same period last year, this was the industry with the largest contribution to the growth rate with 0.95 percentage point; Accommodation and catering service grew by 6.22%, contributing 0.3 percentage point; Financial, banking and insurance activities raised by 7.71%, contributing 0.36 percentage point; Real estate business moved up by 4.75%, contributing 0.32 percentage point.

In terms of economic structure in the first quarter of this year, the sector of agriculture, forestry and fishery made up 10.16%; the sector of industry and construction accounted for 35.25%; the service sector represented 44.04%; the taxes less subsidies on production took 10.55% (corresponding structure for the similar period in 2018 were 10.35%; 35.31%; 43.72%; and 10.62%).

Regarding GDP use in the first quarter of 2019, final consumption increased by 7.09% from the same period in 2018; accumulated assets grew by 6.2%; export of goods and services expanded by 6.81%; import of goods and services expanded by 8.7%.

  1. Production of agriculture, forestry and fishery

      a) Agriculture

As of mid-March, 3,087.2 thousand hectares (ha) of winer-spring rice were cultivated over the country, equalling 100.8% of the cultivated winer-spring rice area in the same period last year, of which localities in the North cultivated 1,088.4 thousand ha, equalling 99.6%; localities in the South cultivated 1,998.8 thousand ha, equalling 101.4%, of which the Mekong River Delta achieved 1,601.5 ha, equalling 101.8%. So far, the Mekong River Delta witnessed 1,042.6 thousand ha of winer-spring rice harvested, accounting for 65.1% of cultivated area and increasing by 64.8% over the same period 2018; the yield was estimated at 10.8 million tons, a decline of 37.9 thousand tons over the previois winter-spring crop; the productivity was estimated at 67.4 quintal/ha, a drop of 1.5 quintal/ha.

Also, as of mid-March, Mekong River Delta provinces basically completed harvesting winter paddy 2018-2019. According to preliminary reports of localities, the total cultivated area of the whole region reached 171.7 thousand hectares, fell 25.6 thousand hectares compared with the previous winter paddy; yield was estimated at 46.4 quintals/hectare, increased by 0.3 quintals/hectare; production reached 797.2 thousand tons, fell 112.3 thousand tons.

As of middle of March, localities in the country cultivated 346.8 thousand hectares of maize, equaling 102.9%  compared with the same period last year; 62.3 thousand hectares of sweet potatoes, equaling 98.9%; 120.8 thousand hectares of groundnut, equaling 98.2%; 14.9 thousand hectares of soybean, equaling 103.5%; 520.8 thousand hectares of vegetables and beans, equaling 102.8%.

Buffalo population in the country in March continued to decrease by 2.8% compared with the same period last year due to low economic efficiency, narrow grazing area; production of buffalo living weight in the first quarter of 2019 reached 26.3 thousand tons, rose by 1.8%. Cattle population grew quite well with an increase of 3% in the month due to favorable prices and consumer markets, producers made stable profits; production of cattle living weight in the first quarter this year was estimated at 99.2 thousand tons, rose by 2.5% compared with the same period last year; production of cow milk in the first quarter reached 252.2 thousand tons, rose by 7.3%. Pig population in the country in March increased by 2.5% compared with the same period last year; production of  pig living weight in the first quarter reached 1,012.2 thousand tons, rose by 3.2%. The livestock was facing complicated outbreak of Africa swine fever spread in 23 provinces and cities under the central government, consumers tended to limit the use of pork that made price of pig living weight decreased in the country. Poultry husbandry grew well, consumption market was stable, the total poultry population in March was estimated to increase by 6.5%  compared with the same period last year; production poultry living weight in the first quarter of 2019 reached 338.3 thousand tons, rose by 6.2%; production of poultry eggs in the first quarter reached nearly 3.6 billion eggs, rose by 10.6%.

          b) Forestry

Generally for the first quarter of 2019, the concentrated forests area in the country was estimated at 31.9 thousand hectares, grew up 1.4% compared with the same period last year; the number of scattered trees reached 15.7 million, an increase of 0.5%; production of wood cut reached 2,714 thousand m3, rose by 4.5%, exploited firewood in the first quarter was estimated at 3.9 million ste, fell 1.5% compared with the same period of 2018.

The damaged forest area was 98.7 hectares, fell 48.4% compared with the same period last year, of which forest fire area was 22.8 hectares, fell 56.6%; deforested area was 75.9 hectares, decreased by 45.4%.

          c) Fishery

Production of fishery in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated at 1,466.7 thousand tons, increased by 4.8% compared with the same period last year, of which fish reached 1,098.7 thousand tons, rose by 5.1%; shrimp reached 136.4 thousand tons,  rose by 5.2%; other fisheries reached 231.6 thousand tons, rose by 3.4%.

Aquaculture production in the first quarter was estimated at 646.2 thousand tons, rose by 4.9% compared with the same period last year, of which fish reached 468.2 thousand tons, rose by 5%; shrimp reached 101.9 thousand tons, rose by 7.6%. Pangasius farming area in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated at 3 thousand hectares, rose by 12% compared with the same period last year; production of pangasius reached 250.1 thousand tons, rose by 7.7%. Production of tiger shrimp in the first quarter was estimated at 43.1 thousand tons, rose by 4.7% compared with the same period last year; production of white leg shrimp reached 45.6 thousand tons, rose by 8.9%.

Fishery production in the first quarter this year was estimated at 820.5 thousand tons, grew up 4.8% compared with the same period last year, of which fish reached 630.5 thousand tons, grew up 5.2%; shrimp reached 34.5 thousand tons, fell 1.1%, in which fish reached 606.1 thousand tons, grew up 5.4%; shrimp reached 31.6 thousand tons, fell 0.9%.

  1. Industrial production

The index of industrial production (IIP) in March 2019 was estimated to soar 27.6% compared to the same period last year of which the mining and quarrying; the manufacturing; the production and distribution of electricity; water supply, waste and sewerage remediation rose by 0.4%; 10.3%; 9.8%; 11% respectively.

Generally, IIP in 1st quarter 2019 was estimated to increase by 9.2% over the same period of last year, lower than the growth of 12.7% of the same period in 2018 but higher than the growth of 7.4% and 4.8% in the same period of 2016 and 2017 respectively. Of which, the manufacturing continuously played major role, encouraging the general growth rate of 11.1% in the whole industrial sector, contributing 8.5 percentage points to the general growth rate, the production and distribution of electricity rose by 9.4%, contributing 0.8 percentage points; the water supply, waste and sewerage remediation went up 8.5%, contributing 0.2 percentage points; particularly, the mining and quarrying decreased by 2.1%, resulting in a decline of 0.3 percentage points in the general growth.

In the 2-digit industrial activities, IIP in some industrial activities possessed a high rise against the same period of last year, mainly contributing to the general growth of the whole industrial sector: the manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products shoot up 96.1%; the manufacture of metals surged up 37.3%; the manufacture of motor vehicles soared 20.8%; sewerage remediation and drainage; the manufacture of rubber and plastic products; the mining and quarrying support service activities; the manufacture of beverages; the quarrying of metal ores rose by 13.1%; 12.8%; 11.6%; 11.4%; 10.9% respectively. Some industrial activities possessed a moderate increase or decrease: the manufacture of fabricated metal (except machinery and equipment); the manufacture of electronic, computer and optical products (an increase of 29.3% in the same period of previous year); the manufacture of pharmaceutical, medicinal chemical and botanical products; the manufacture of tobacco products had the corresponding rise of 3.3%; 2.9%; 1.3%; 0.4%; extraction of crude oil and natural gas fell by 6.2% (extraction of crude oil dropped 10.3% and extraction of natural gas reduced by 2.4%); other mining and quarrying (stone, sand, gravel…) went down 0.2%.

The index of industrial shipment of manufacturing, the index of industrial inventory of manufacturing as of 31st March 2019 gained a rise of 15.6% compared to same time point of previous year. The average rate of industrial inventory in the 1st quarter of 2019 was 72.9%.

  1. Enterprise activities

       a) Enterprises registration status

In the first quarter of this year, there were 28.451 newly registered enterprises with a total registered capital of 375.5 trillion VND, an increase of 6.2% in number of enterprises and 34.8% in  registered capital compared to the same period in 2018[5]; The average registered capital of a newly established enterprise reached 13.2 billion VND, an increase of 26.9%. If including 722.5 trillion VND of additional registered capital of enterprises that recorded upward adjustment of capital, the total additional registered capital in the economy in the first quarter of 2019 was 1,098 trillion VND. In addition, there were 15,050 re-operated enterprises, increasing by 78.1% compared to the same period last year, bringing the total number of newly registered enterprises and re-operated enterprises in the first quarter of 2019 to over 43.5 thousand enterprises. The total number of registered employees of newly established enterprises in the first quarter of 2019 were 317.6 thousand employees, grew up 40.9% over the same period last year.

In the first quarter of this year, the number of enterprises ceased for a certain period of time was 14,761 enterprises, rose by 20.8% compared to the same period last year. Enterprises were revoked their business registration certificates under the 2018 data standardization program, accounting for 54.8% of the total of enterprises temporarily ceased  waited dissolution; the number of enterprises informed to be dissolved with 3,378 enterprises, accounting for 22% and 3,549 enterprises waited dissolution procedures, accounting for 23.2%.

In the first quarter of 2019, the number of enterprises completed dissolution procedures was 4,116 enterprises, increasing by 23.9% compared to the same period last year, of which 3,737 the enterprises with capital size of less than 10 billion VND.

         b) Business trends of enterprises

Results of the business trend of manufacturing enterprises in the first quarter of 2019 showed that 33.7% of enterprises assessed that the business production situation in the first quarter of this year was better than the previous quarter; 25.8% of enterprises faced difficulties and 40.5% of enterprises said that the business production situation was stable. It is expected that in the second quarter of 2019, 54.6% of enterprises presented that the trend would get better; 10.6% of enterprises predicted that it would be more difficult and 34.8% of enterprises said that the business production situation would be stable.

  1. Service operation

Gross retail sales of goods and services were estimated at 1,184.9 trillion VND, up 12% compared to the same period last year, if excluding price factor, the growth rate was 9% (8.9% in the same period in 2018).

By kinds of economic activity, retail sales of goods in the first quarter were estimated at 910.4 trillion VND, accounting for 76.8% of the total.

Passenger carriage in the first 3 months of the year, passenger carriage reached 1.237 million passengers, an increase of 10.8% over the same period last year and 55.7 billion passengers.km, an increase of 10%,

Cargo carriage reached 412.2 million tons, up 8.6% and 78.1 billion tons.km, up 6.5%.

Revenue from telecommunications activities in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated at 104 trillion VND, up 7.5% over the same period last year. As of the end of March 2019, the total number of telephone subscribers was estimated at 135.3 million, up 4.1% over the same period last year, of which the number of mobile subscribers was 131.1 million, up 6.1%; subscribers of fixed broadband internet were estimated at 13.9 million, up 15.8%.

International visitors to Viet Nam were estimated at 4,500.1 thousand, increasing by 7% over the same period last year, of which arrivals by airway were 3,516.3 thousand, increasing by 4.5%; by road reached 908.8 thousand persons, an increase of 26.2%; by seaway reached 75 thousand persons, a decline of 37.4%.

In the first 3 months in 2019, international visitors to Viet Nam from Asia reached 3,390.4 thousand persons, an increase of 7.5% over the same period last year, of which China was 1,281.1 thousand persons, (down 5.6%); South Korea: 1,107.8 thousand persons, up 24.1%; Japan: 233.4 thousand persons, up 8.3%; Taiwan: 207.1 thousand persons, an increase of 26%; Malaysia: 143.6 thousand persons, an increase of 11.1%; Thailand: 124.6 thousand persons, an increase of 49.3%; Singapore 68.3 thousand persons, an increase of 0.7%.

       Banking, insurance activities

As of 20th March, 2019, the total payment facilities increased by 2.54% compared to the end of 2018 (same period in 2018 was a rise of 3.23%); capital mobilization of credit institutions increased by 1.72% (same period in 2018 was an increase of 2.2%); credit growth of the economy reached 1.9% (same period in 2018 was an increase of 2.23%).

Insurance market in the first 3 months of 2019 maintained a positive growth. Insurance revenue in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated to increase by 17% compared to the same period of 2018, in which the revenue of life insurance premium increases by 23%; non-life insurance premiums climbed up 9% .

       Investment

The realize investment in the first quarter of 2019 at current prices reached 359.2 trillion VND, increasing by 8.8% over the same period last year and equaling 32.2% of the GDP, including: State sector reached 106.8 trillion VND, accounting for 29.7% of the total capital and increasing by 3.5% over the same period last year; non-state sector reached 158 trillion VND, accounting for 44% and increasing by 13.6%; FDI sector reached 94.4 trillion VND, accounting for 26.3% and rising by 7.5%.

 In the investment of the State sector, the capital from the State budget in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated at 50.8 trillion VND, equaling to 14.7% of the yearly plan and increasing by 3.2% compared to the first quarter of 2018 (the rates in the same period of the previous year were 14% and 10.3%, respectively), including:

Foreign direct investment from the beginning of the year to 20th March, 2019 attracted 785 newly licensed projects with a registered capital of 3,821.4 million USD, an increase of 27% in number of projects and an increase of 80.1 % of registered capital compared to the same period in 2018. Besides, 279 projects that were licensed from previous years registered to adjust investment capital with an additional capital of 1,298.4 million USD, reducing 27, 5% compared to the same period in 2018. Thus, the total newly registered and additional capital in 3 months gained 5,119.8 million USD, expanding by 30.9% over same period of last year. Foreign direct investment in 3 months was estimated at 4,120 million USD, rising by 6.2% over the same period in 2018. In the first 3 months of 2019, there were 1,653 turns of capital contribution and share purchases of foreign investors with a total capital contribution of 5.69 billion USD, an increase of three times compared to the same period in 2018, of which 588 turns of capital contribution, share purchases increased the charter capital of the enterprise with the capital contribution of 4.79 billion USD and 1,065 turns of foreign investors repurchased domestic shares without increasing charter capital with the value of 0.9 billion USD.

Vietnam’s outward investment in the first quarter of 2019 had 24 new projects granted investment certificates with the total capital of 80.4 million USD; 8 capital adjusted projects with an additional capital of 39.6 million USD. In general, the total outward investment of Viet Nam (newly licensed and supplementary capital) in the first quarter of this year reached 120 million USD

      State budget Revenue and Expenditure 

The state budget revenue from the beginning of the year to March 15, 2019 was estimated at 278.6 trillion VND, equaling 19.7% of the yearly estimate, of which domestic revenue reached 221.7 trillion VND, accounting for 18. 9%; crude oil revenue was 9.9 trillion VND, equaling 22.3%; budget balance revenue from import and export gained 47 trillion VND, equaling 24.9%.

The state budget expenditure from the beginning of the year to March 15, 2019 was estimated at 254.5 trillion VND, equaling 15.6% of the yearly estimate, of which recurrent expenditure reached 192.7 trillion VND, making up 19.3%; development investment expenditure was 33.5 trillion VND, equaling 7.8%; interest payment was 27.7 trillion VND, accounting for 22.2%.

      Export and import of goods and services

      a) Export of goods

Export turnover of goods was estimated at 58.51 billion USD, an increase of 4.7% over the same period in 2018, of which: the domestic economic sector reached 17.05 billion USD, an increase of 9.7%; FDI sector (including crude oil) reached 41.46 billion USD, growing by 2.7%, accounting for 70.9%.

In the first quarter, export value of 9 products reached over 1 billion USD, accounting for 70.8% of the total export turnover, of which: textiles and garments reached 7.3 billion USD, up 13.3%; electronic goods, computers and their parts reached 6.9 billion USD, an increase of 9.3%; footwear gained 4 billion USD, up 15.3%; machinery, instrument and accessory reached 3.9 billion USD, up 5.2%; wood and wooden products reached 2.3 billion USD, up 17%; means of transport and spare parts reached 2.2 billion USD, up 7.6%; iron and steel gained 1.1 billion USD, up 3.6%. Export turnover of some agricultural products in the first quarter of this year decreased compared to the same period last year: Vegetables reached 885 million USD, down 8.6%; coffee gained 830 million USD, down 23.8% (volume decreased by 15.3%); cashew nuts reached 625 million USD, down 17.2% (volume increased by 4.7%); rice reached 567 million USD, down 23.6% (volume decreased by 11.5%); pepper gained 189 million USD, down 14.7% (volume increased by 18.5%). Particularly, export turnover of rubber in the first 3 months of the year achieved 458 million USD, up 17.8% over the same period last year (volume increased by 32%).

        b) Import of goods

Import turnover in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated at 57.98 billion USD, up 8.9% compared to the same period in 2018, of which: the domestic economic sector achieved 24.09 billion USD, up 13.4%; FDI sector reached 33.89 billion USD, up 6%.

In the first quarter, 13 imported products reached over 1 billion USD, accounting for 69.5 % of the total import turnover, of which: Electronic goods, computer and their parts reached 11,7 billion USD, up 12.2% over the same period last year; machinery, instrument and accessory gained 8.7 billion USD, up 15.1%; fabric reached 2.8 billion USD, up 6.4%; iron and steel achieved 2.3 billion USD, up 4.1%; plastics gained 2.2 billion USD, up 4.1%; phone and their parts reached 1.8 billion USD, up 103.7%; plastic products gained 1.5 billion USD, up 7.8%; materials for textile, garment and footwear reached 1.4 billion USD, up 8.8%; chemicals attained 1.2 billion USD, up 7%; chemical products reached 1.2 billion USD, up 3.5%; petroleum reached 1.2 billion USD, down 47.6%.

The trade balance of goods in the first quarter of 2019 continued to witness a trade surplus of 536 million USD, of which: the domestic economic sector saw a trade deficit of 7.04 billion USD; FDI sector (including crude oil) witnessed a trade surplus of 7.57 billion USD.

        c) Export and import of services

The export turnover of services was estimated at 4.1 billion USD, up 5.7% compared to the same period in 2018, of which: tourism services reached 3 billion USD (accounting for 71.2% of the total turnover), up 7.3%; transportation services gained 741 million USD (accounting for 17.9%), up 1.5%. Import turnover of services in the first quarter was estimated at 4.6 billion USD, up 6.3% over the same period last year, of which: transportation services reached 2.2 billion USD (sharing 47.5% of total turnover), up 8%; tourism services gained 1.4 billion USD (contributing 31.6%), up 6.7%. Service trade deficit in the first quarter of 2019 was 405 million USD, equaling 9.8% of service export turnover.

      Price indices

      a) Consumer price index

CPI in March 2019 decreased by 0.21% over the previous month, of which price indexes of 7 per 11 major commodity and service groups decreased. The group of food and catering services fell the most with 1.42% (food decreased by 0.55%[6]; foodstuff dropped 1.97%[7]), making the overall CPI decline 0.51%, mainly due to lower consumption demand after Tet holiday and impact of African swine fever. The group of garment, hats and footwear decreased by 0.17%; culture, entertainment and tourism went down 0.09%; beverages and tobacco products decreased 0.08%; post and telecommunication fell 0.07%; other goods and services dropped 0.04%; household equipment and goods declined 0.03%. Other groups of goods and services with an increase in price index included: the group of transportation increased by 2.22% due to the impact of an upward adjustment of petrol and oil prices as of 2nd March, 2019 (making CPI increase 0.23%); housing and construction materials increased by 0.78% mainly due to an increase of 4.88% in gas prices in the month; medicine and health services went up 0.03%; education increased by 0.01%.

Average CPI in the first quarter of 2019 increased by 2.63% compared to the same period of 2018, the lowest increase in the first quarter of the last 3 years[8]; CPI in March 2019 increased by 0.69% compared to December 2018 and rose 2.7% compared to the same period in 2018.

Core inflation in March 2019 decreased by 0.06% over the previous month and rose 1.84% over the same period last year. Average core inflation in the first quarter of 2019 increased by 1.83% compared to the same period last year.

         b) Gold and USA dollar price indices

Domestic gold prices fluctuated in line with world gold prices. Gold price index in March 2019 decreased 0.49% compared to the previous month; increased 3.3% compared to December 2018 and declined 0.3% over the same period last year. USD price index in March 2019 increased by 0.05% over the previous month; decreased 0.44% compared to December 2018 and increased 2.02% compared to the same period in 2018.

         c) Producer price indices

Input producer price index in the first quarter of 2019 increased by 0.19% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 and rose 2.60% over the same period last year, the price index used for agricultural, forestry and fishery decreased by 0.94% but increased by 5.94%; for manufacturing increased by 0.45% and 2.56%; for construction decreased by 0.54% and increased by 2.72%.

Merchandise export price index in the first quarter of 2019 increased 3.63% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 and increased 2.88% compared to the same period last year.

Merchandise import in the first quarter of 2019 decreased by 0.27%. Merchandise term of trade[9] in the first quarter of 2019 increased by 3.91% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 and increased by 1.81% compared to the same period last year.

       Labor and employment

In Q1 2019, the labor force aged 15 years and over of the whole country was estimated at 55.4 million persons, a decrease of 207 thousand persons compared to previous quarter: the number of male employees was 29 million persons, accounted for 52.3%, the number of female employees was 26.4 million persons, made up 47.7%. The employed population aged 15 years and over working in urban and rural area was 18.5 million persons and 36.9 million persons, respectively with the corresponding share of 33.3% and 66.7%.

In Q1 2019, labor force in working age was estimated at 48.8 million persons, a decrease of 96.4 thousand persons compared to previous quarter and increased by 444.2 thousand persons compared to the corresponding period of the preceding year, in which male employees was 26.6 million persons, accounted for 54.4%, female employees was 22.2 million persons, accounted for 45.6%; employees in urban and rural area was 16.9 million persons and 31.9 million persons, respectively with the corresponding share of 34.7% and 65.3%.

In Q1 2019, the employed population aged 15 years and over was estimated at 54.3 million persons, of which employees of the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector were 19.2 million, made up 35.4% of the total employed population; the industry and construction sector was 15.6 million persons, the corresponding share of 28.6%; and the service sector was 19.5 million persons, with the corresponding share of 36%.

Unemployment rate of labor force in working age was estimated at 2.17%, of which unemployment rate of labor force in working age in urban and rural was 3.11% and 1.67%, respectively[10]. The youth unemployment rate (aged 15 to 24) in Q1 2019 was estimated at 6.27%, of which urban and rural was 10.49% and 4.64%, respectively.

Underemployment rate at working age in Q1 2019 was estimated at 1.21%, of which underemployment rate in urban and rural area was 0.60% and 1.53%, respectively.

Percentage of employment in the informal economy in non-agricultural activities[11] in Q1 2019 was estimated at 54.3%, of which urban and rural area was 45.9% and 61.3%, respectively.

        Living standards and social security

People’s life in the first months of 2019 was generally stable, food shortage among farmers significantly decreased compared to the same period in 2018 According to preliminary reports, in Q1 2019, the whole country witnessed 28.5 thousand the thousand households suffering from food shortage a year on year fall of 38.3%, corresponding to 105.3 thousand persons suffering from food shortage, declined by 39.2%. In order to overcome food shortage, from the beginning of the year, all administrative levels, sectors and organizations from central to local level supported these households with 1.7 thousand tons of rice.

Social security continued to be paid attention by authorities.  There were 14 million health insurance cards, free health care books/cards were donated to policy beneficiaries in the whole country.

        Education and Training

There were 5,360 thousand preschool children; 8,359 primary school pupils; 5,603 thousand lower secondary school pupils; 2,578 thousand upper secondary school pupils and 11.7 thousand pedagogical secondary school students; 44.5 thousand pedagogical college students; 1,443 thousand full-time university students.

In the first 3 months of 2019, vocational training enrolled 248.8 thousand students, of which there were 44.8 thousand college and secondary students; 204 thousand short-term training and other vocational training programs.

      Epidemic diseases and food poisoning

In the first 3 months of 2019, the whole country recorded over 8.5 thousand cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (1 death); 41.9 thousand cases of hemorrhagic fever (2 deaths); 6 cases of meningococcal meningitis; 84 cases of viral encephalitis and 173 food poisoning cases (3 deaths)

As of 18 March 2019, the total number of alive HIV-infected persons over the country was 209.07 thousand persons and the number of cases turned to AIDS was 95.8 thousand persons; the number of persons died of HIV/AIDS nationwide was 98.2 thousand persons.

       Culture and Sport

Cultural activities in the first 3 months of 2019 focused on celebrating the Party, celebrating the Ky Hoi Lunar New Year and traditional festivals in many localities across the country. Many events were organized on a large scale and receive actively response of many people. Communication and advocacy activities were organized in many forms, ensuring practicality, efficiency and savings, creating an exciting atmosphere among the people. Besides, festival management was paid attention to promote the positiveness of folk festivals and in line with cultural traditions; inspection and security at festivals were tightened and environmental sanitation and implementation of civilized lifestyle was ensured.

The mass sports movement took place vigorously throughout the localities in association with the campaign named “All people do physical exercise as the Great Uncle Ho did”. Physical training and sports activities were organized throughout the country, from traditional and traditional games to modern sports in order to meet the demands of people in accordance with local customs.

        Traffic accidents

In the first 3 months of 2019, there were 4,030 traffic accidents occurred nationwide, including 2,148 traffic accidents from less serious to more and 1,882 traffic collisions, causing 1,905 deaths, 1,209 injuries and 1,932 slight injuries. Compared to the same period last year, the number of traffic accidents in the first 3 months of this year decreased by 13.8% (traffic accidents from less serious to more decreased by 10.4%; the number of traffic collisions decreased by 17.4%); the number of deaths decreased by 11.4%; the number of injuries dropped 0.9% and the number of slight injuries decreased by 19.7%.  On average 45 traffic accidents occurred a day in the first 3 months 2019 nationwide, including 24 traffic accidents from less serious to more and 21 traffic collisions, causing 21 deaths, 13 injuries and 22 slight injuries.

        Damages caused by natural disasters 

Natural disasters caused 8 deaths and missing; 15 injuries; 4.9 thousand hectares of rice and arable crops were damaged; 265 thousand houses collapsed, swept away; nearly 8 thousand houses hit by landslides and damaged. The total value of damage caused by natural disasters in Q1 2019 was estimated at over 104 billion VND.

For the first 3 months, 2,378 cases of violating regulations of environment protection were found, of which 2,127 cases were addressed with total fine of over 22 billion VND.

There were 957 cases of fire and explosion across the country, causing 30 deaths and 57 injuries, with an estimated property damage of over 154 billion VND.

 

[1] International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its global growth forecast in 2019 to 3.5%, 0.2 percentage points lower than the previous forecast of 3.7%, and this was the first time the IMF brought down forecast of world economic growth since July 2016. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also cut its forecast of world economic growth in 2019 by 0.2 percentage points, to 3.3%. Meanwhile, World Bank ( WB) only forecasted global economic growth in 2019 to reach 2.9%.

[2] GDP growth in the first quarter of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 was: 5.90%, 4.75%, 4.76%, 5.06%, 6.12%, 5.48%, 5.15%, 7.45 %, and 6.79%, respectively

[3] Growth rate of value added in the fishery activities in the first quarter of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 was: 2.87%, 4.06%, 2.28%, 4.72%, 3.38%, 1.90%, 3.76%, 4.9 6%, and 5.1%, respectively

[4] Growth rate of value added in the manufacturing activities in the first quarter of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 was: 8.74%, 4.38%, 5.97%, 9.70%, 8.94%, 8.60%, 14.30%, and 12.35%, respectively

[5] In the first quarter of 2018, the number of newly registered enterprises increased by 1.2% over the same period last year; the registered capital increased by 2.7%; the average registered capital of an enterprise increased by 1.5%.

[6] Mainly because pork prices fell 0.65 % over the previous month.

[7] As pork prices decreased by 5.3% compared to the previous month; fresh seafood prices declined 1.51%; prices of poultry eggs decreased by 2.76 % and prices of fresh vegetables decreased by 1.53 %.

[8] Average CPI growth rate in the first quarter compared to the same period last year in 2017, 2018, and 2019: 4.96%, 2.82%, and 2.63%, respectively.

[9] The ratio between merchandise export index and merchandise import index.

[10]Unemployment rate of labor force in working age in Q1 2018 was 2.20%, (urban area: 3.12%; rural area: 1.74%).

[11] Employment in the informal economy in non-agricultural activities include those who do not work in agriculture, forestry and fisheries and belong to one of the following three groups: (i) wage earners in the formal sector who are not entitled to enter into a labor contract or to be entered into a labor contract with definite term but not paid compulsory social insurance by employers; family labor in establishments in the formal sector and cooperative members who do not have a compulsory social insurance; (ii) owners of establishments, self-employed workers, wage earners and family labor in establishments in the informal sector; (iii) self-employed workers for self-consumption of households and hired labor in households.