For the past three decades, Vietnam has known only good — or great — economic news. The nation’s consistent growth as an exporter, propelled by Communist leaders who began embracing market-oriented policies in the late 1980s, pushed many into the middle class.
The coronavirus pandemic changed all that. With garment companies seeing orders slashed and other sectors hit with sudden export declines, Vietnam’s workers are enduring the downside of being tethered to the global economy. The economic slowdown in the U.S. and other markets Vietnam depends on for growth is being felt on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, as well as in villages and tourist centers.
Le Thi Hoa, who sells pineapple and mango slices outside Ho Chi Minh City’s Ben Thanh Market in the heart of the commercial hub, is among those wondering where the good times have gone.
“Now people don’t go out,” said Hoa, 55, wearing a face mask and sitting on a plastic chair next to fruit baskets in front of a closed seafood restaurant. “I can only sell about a third of what I did before the epidemic.”
John Boudreau and Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen