Transition Economies Meet in Viet Nam to Take Stock of Two Decades of Market Reform

31 May 2004

Ha Noi - A high level international policy conference on transition economies opened today in Ha Noi to take stock of and exchange experiences on some of the most important lessons learned in transition economies over the past two decades.

In his opening speech, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung welcomed the Conference, saying it was a meaningful international forum to learn about the most valuable policy and institutional building experiences from diverse transition economies. He also highlighted major progress Viet Nam has achieved over the past 20 years while pursuing its transition from centrally planned economy to a market economy with a socialist orientation.

“The Conference is especially timely for Viet Nam in light of the country’s upcoming 20 year review of doi moi, Viet Nam’s highly successful reform process launched in 1986,” said Dr. Hafiz Pasha, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau of Asia and the Pacific. “In this context, the Conference will explore four sets of inter-related issues pertaining to sustaining growth, the challenge of rising inequality, the need for balanced development and the overriding agenda of improved governance,” he added.

The two-day Conference has been organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the organizers of the Annual International Conference on Transition Economies, the William Davidson Institute, the Centre for Economic Policy Research and Viet Nam's Academy of Social Sciences.

“The policy conference will attempt to discern the most important policy and institutional implications for countries still in transition and, importantly, will also compare and contrast the differing experiences of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eastern Europe with those of transition economies in East and South East Asia” said Dr. Kalman Mizsei, Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Dr. Yegor Gaidar, former Prime Minister of Russia, Dr. Grzegorz Kolodko, former First Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, Dr. Willem Buiter, Chief Economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Dr. Sok Siphana, Cambodia’s successful WTO negotiator are among the high-ranking officials and transition experts attending the Conference.

The conference has attracted a wide range of senior officials and policy makers from Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lao DPR, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. An important underlying theme of this high level policy conference is Globalization, Integration and Transition since most transition economies are currently facing pressing international and regional integration challenges related to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union (EU), the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) and other cross-border trade and investment agreements.

The conference will allow participants to debate specific types of policies and institutional reforms with the benefit of hindsight provided by nearly 20 years of transition to market economy. Discussions will also focus on the differing strategies for the development of the private sector in transition economies; country experiences in the liberalization of trade and financial markets; and equity issues related to the implementation of a market economy.

Viet Nam embarked on the broad process of policy and institutional reform known as doi moi in 1986. Major components of doi moi included the transition from central planning to a market economy with a socialist orientation, and the implementation of an open-door policy to facilitate Viet Nam’s active and gradual integration into regional and global communities. "Doi moi has provided and extended the opportunities for and enhanced the capacity of Vietnamese people allowing them to bring into full play their talents and energy. This, in turn, has contributed to rapid and sustained economic growth and to the broader objective of human development of the country, “said Professor Do Hoai Nam, President of Viet Nam's Academy for Social Sciences.

UNDP Resident Representative Jordan Ryan said learning from Viet Nam’s past successes provides valuable lessons for its future development path. He added: “Just as the initial success of doi moi was based on the liberalization of the non-state farm sector, future success will likely be based on encouraging further liberalization of choices for people, especially in the non-state sector. This will require further policy, legal and institutional reform. This International Policy Conference is therefore particularly timely to contribute the experience of other transition economies into Viet Nam’s review of the successful doi moi policy and institutional reform process”.

The Conference also benefited from the inputs of world-class scholars and experts in the area of transition from renowned policy and research institutes including Brookings, Harvard University, London School of Economics, Stanford University, Stockholm School of Economics, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, University of California Berkeley, University of Michigan, Warsaw University, Transparency International, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IMF, the World Bank and UNDP.

For additional information on the International Policy Conference on Transition Economies, please visit the conference's new website at www.ipcte2004.org.

Contact Information

Dang Huu Cu, 9421495 (EXT: 179); Fax: (04) 942 2267;
e-mail: dang.huu.cu@undp.org