Doi Moi

What is the Đổi Mới?
The Đổi Mới (pronounced "doy moy", as in “me” from Kath and Kim) literally means “renovation” or “reconstruction” and it is an economic philosophy that Vietnam has adopted in the recent past. The Đổi Mới aims to increase economic growth and development by liberating the economy within Vietnam and increasing Vietnam’s contribution to the global economic community.
Like another Asian nation, China, Vietnam has had a communist past. This implied that the government directly controlled the nations economy and the government introduced all legal and economic regulations as well as controlling businesses. This resulted in very limited trade with foreign countries and the production within Vietnam, from large businesses to farms, was often inefficiently controlled directly by the government.
The Đổi Mới quite simply aims to keep the nation primarily communist, therefore satisfying the countries’ moral belief and convictions. However, it also aims to make the nations economy part of the global market and introduce the “nice” parts of capitalism. This is similar to the approach taken in China and other ex-communist nations, but Vietnam has taken care to base the Đổi Mới on its own terms.
There are generally considered to be six principles or goals that the Đổi Mới works by, these are:
1. Decentralization of the economy, allowing businesses autonomy.
2. A monetary system focussing on the market (helping to decrease inflation).
3. An agricultural system that allows groups or individuals to have long term say over their land and the power to buy market products as well as work on information from the market.
4. The power given to all businesses to deal with the foreign market (including exports and imports).
5. Allowing the economy to be influenced by the foreign market, that is allowing exchange rates and resource prices to be influenced by the global economy.
6. Power for the private sector to increase economic growth.
Đổi Mới technically removes the communist title given to the country and replaces it with a more market driven socialist theme.
Below is an image of a market street in Vietnam, in the background the store Gucci has a shop. This would not have been found 20 years ago, but under the Đổi Mới policy, Trans-National Corporations have been able to move in. This boosts the nations economy.

Why Was it Introduced?
A quote that sums up the reasoning behing the Đổi Mới is “A step to reverse the increasingly fragmented and out of touch bureaucracy.”
Before the Doi Moi, Vietnam had a cumbersome system of administration, both within the country and concerning dealings with other countries. The government especially primarily controlled the agriculture industry and in all parts of the economy there was little to no private sector influence. The downside to the government having such a say in everything was that there was little room for open debate about economic decisions. This lead to bad decisions being made by an out of touch bureaucracy.
However, now that the Doi Moi policy has been introduced, the way that the government works has been simplified, making the countries running more efficient. Departments, ministries and so forth are also made accountable. This key step is designed to make the country an easier place to administrate and it makes laws easier to implement and enforce.
Vietnam has also had a long history and the Đổi Mới can almost be seen as a natural progression following the turbulence in the past.
The Vietnam War was a conflict between communist North Vietnam and supporting nations against capitalist powers. The war boiled down to a stale mate eventually and the war officially ended in 1975. After the war, most nations continued on a capitalist path and as such it would be difficult for an ex-communist nation like Vietnam to keep the stance that it had adopted. The Đổi Mới is a step that has conformed Vietnam to more accepted world views and as such it is a natural step forward from the long struggle that was the Vietnam War.
The Vietnamese are a people who throughout history have shown a tendency to be autonomous of other countries and do things their own way. This generalization has been represented throughout history when the French controlled Vietnam and when the Chinese controlled Vietnam. In both occasions assimilation offered Vietnam several economic and military benefits (especially in the case of France controlling Vietnam and giving them economic benefits), yet Vietnam in each case campaigned for their independence. The Đổi Mới is Vietnam’s way of accepting the dominance of capitalism, yet keeping their identity as they wish.

Why is it so Important?
The main point that the Đổi Mới achieves is that it gives individuals the chance to own businesses, and more importantly decide how the business operates. Under most communist nations this would be a tabooed idea, but under Đổi Mới there is room for the individual to base their business decisions on their experiences and beliefs.
This way of operating still gives the government a chance to have a say on the running of the nation, but now its decisions are based on the will of the people. Where the government does directly control industry and agriculture there is also an accountability system as one of the main achievements of the Đổi Mới is that there is a more organized and efficient administration system.
Because the government of Vietnam has let go of their megalomania and allowed the development of the private sector, the entire economy has become based around the free market rather than outdated principles.

When and Who Introduced the Đổi Mới
The Đổi Mới was officially endorsed by the sixth national congress of Vietnam in 1986. The movement for the Đổi Mới to be introduced had, however, started after the second Indochina war (the Vietnam War) in 1975. It had been pushed for a long time by many capitalist countries that Vietnam should introduce capitalism to it's economic system. This pressure from external sources culminated in the sixth national congress introducing Đổi Mới 11 years after the Vietnam War (or the American War as it is called in Vietnam).

How Does It Affect Modern Day Vietnam?
The Đổi Mới has had a significant impact on the country of Vietnam, both on the individual level, in terms of the welfare of the people and for Vietnam as part of the global economy. Vietnam along with China is now considered one of the powerhouses, in an economic development sense, of Asia. A lot of these recent benefits can be traced to the introduction of the Đổi Mới and the new economy that it has developed.
As mentioned earlier, if you are citizen of Vietnam, now you can own business and land rights. This not only empowers the people but boosts the economy by increasing local produce, putting more money into the private sector and allowing basic capitalist ideas based on competition to take hold. Over the last 20 years this has greatly affected the economy with economic growth in Vietnam nearing an unprecedented 10% per year (over the last few years an impressive increase of 7% has been recorded) which has given Vietnam its title as an economic powerhouse of Asia, and indeed the world.
(this is shown below on a graph recording GDP increase over the last 12 years)
Image from
The living standard in Vietnam has also risen, the level of poverty in Vietnam has dropped significantly since economic renovation took place in 1986.
The economy of Vietnam has been so greatly influenced by Đổi Mới because instead of an out of touch government department deciding what happens with a farms profits, and experienced farmer can. This has given the people of Vietnam a feeling that they are a part of the economy and they have some power.
(Note: there are no avialable public videos on Đổi Mới, we are currently working on something and it should be up soon).

Problems and Opposition to Đổi Mới
Most residents, officials and politicians in Vietnam have been pleased with the Đổi Mới, but some parties still maintain that it should be more in favour of the capitalist aspect of economy. On the flip side there have been some who have said that the Đổi Mới sacrifices the ideals of Vietnam and the communist systems that were previously in place in Vietnam should be returned.
Both sides to this debate are relatively minor and are rarely heard about and discussed. This is because of the impressive recent economic growth making it hard to criticise the choices made under the Đổi Mới program.
There is still some way to go towards acheiving an absolutely perfect system though. Several points were raised under a Public Administration (PAR) report commissioned by the Asian development bank that could be used to improve the current effect that Đổi Mới is having. Firstly, departments for the importation and exportation of several key items and commodoties are still to be established; these include a more highly funded department for urban construction and planning, a department for investigating corruption and a department for the trading of motorcycles (a key form of transport in Asian nations with high population density).

Đổi Mới has been a successful economic renovation tool for Vietnam since its introduction by the Sixth National Congress of Vietnam in 1986. It has caused unprecedented economic growth and increase in the living standards of residents in Vietnam aswell as allowing many people who fled the country during the Vietnam War and previously to return to their home country. Businesses have prospered and the government has become more functional and accountable because of Đổi Mới. Due to Đổi Mới, Vietnam has become one of the world's fastest growing economies and alongside China it is one of the economic powerhouses of Asia and indeed the world.
Despite minor problems, some goals to still be acheived and very minor opposition, Đổi Mới has been one of the key policies that have shaped Vietnam and it has given it the garuntee of stability opposed to the countrie's turbulent past.