(Translated by Guy Langloy)

(l’Humanite) The world is shifting its base. In Asia, Latin America and other continents, the devastating effects of this historical crisis of capitalism do not necessarily lead to pessimism, but rather quite the opposite. There are economies that are not only resisting but also innovating in bold new ways. For example, let us consider Vietnam.

Having been in charge of exchanges and cooperation between the Poitou-Charente region of France and Vietnam for the last fifteen years, I have had the opportunity intimately to know a country that, in spite of forty years of war, has been able to record an amazing growth. I was able to measure in each aspect of its economy the degree of its progress and to examine the nature of persisting or emerging problems. As a Communist, I found of particular interest the fact that long before the collapse of the so-called East European “socialist” countries, Vietnam had already embarked in a search for new perspectives : “Doi moi” or Policy of Renewal [1].

Vietnam has evolved in a spectacular fashion. The growth rate is close to 7% and standard of living has doubled. National policy is based on a “socialist oriented market economy” whose objective is to meet the pressing needs of education, employment and social progress for a population that has grown from forty million to eighty and will reach one hundred million in the future. However needs increase faster than growth itself. They stimulate development while creating new contradictions…

Vietnam has not bled its agriculture by placing it under the domination of financial institutions. Old inequalities persist and new ones develop even if the UNDP [2] report recognized that Vietnam is one of the rare countries in the world where poverty is receding. Bangladesh and Madagascar offer a stark contrast. It is amazing that the media has been silent on this subject.

We are at the opposite end of liberalism. Political choices come within the scope of globalization but do not follow the legitimizing theories of capitalism regarding the liberalization of capital transfers or the privatization of common goods. The market is a means not an end. New questions emerge with accrued importance : on one hand secure a durable development that is not wasteful of natural resources, on the other hand give new dimensions to the relationship between the State, society and individuals.

This development program was of course affected by the financial world crisis. A 23% inflation rate over 2008 has threatened the standard of living of the people. Local media has reported that 14 enterprises employing 4000 workers may close in Ho-Chi-Minh City. This obviously has an impact on the objectives and tendencies of the development policy. However, it must be noted that the march forward has not been stopped. The growth rate has stabilized at 6.2%, rice production has surpassed the harvest of 2007 by 2.6 million tons. Although the trade deficit had deepened, it was compensated by a strong growth in investments : the creation of new jobs was therefore possible. The Stock Market dropped but did not affect industrial development. Economy and trade are stabilized.

Even if the world crisis reaches new heights that could impact Vietnam, we are very far from global tendencies. Why ? First, Vietnam made political choices that do not feed into the mechanism of the crisis. It was affected by it but did not create it. It even has means to protect itself from it. Vietnam needs foreign investments but its base is its domestic market. It has kept a global power over its economy and finance.

Its trump cards are political : the socialist oriented market economy is helping the country stay its course in spite of planetary turmoil. After the meeting of the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party, the Prime Minister described in October the measures taken to counter inflation and trade deficit : a reduction in public expenditures, a raise of the interest rate but not at the expense of living standards, the anti-poverty campaign and rural development.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [3] and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in their latest annual reports confirm the opinion of the World Bank President : Vietnam is “an example of success in the history of development” and should be switched into the category of countries with medium incomes.

Within the context of this historical crisis of capitalism, the re-emergence of old civilizations such as China, India and Vietnam is an important event for the future development of our humanity. Human values can only have a universal dimension when they integrate the inputs of all the peoples on this planet.