Vietnamese give cautious welcome to do-or-die era of WTO

HANOI, Nov 7, 2006 (AFP) – Most Vietnamese appear to welcome their country joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) but many also fear they must step up the pace or fall behind as the country enters the fast lane of globalisation. A recent international Gallup poll found that the communist ruled and so far McDonalds-free country is among the world’s most fervent backers of globalisation, with 75 percent of respondents saying it benefits the country.

“I don’t think there is much of an anti-WTO camp in Vietnam,” said Jonathan Pincus, chief economist of the UN Development Programme in Vietnam, as the Geneva based club was set to approve Vietnam as its 150th member on Tuesday.

“The general public recognises that this is part of Vietnam’s reintegration with the rest of the world and they’re very excited about it.”

The country of 84 million people is now dominated by post-Vietnam war baby boomers — two thirds of the population is under 30 — hungry for Western goods, technology and ideas, say political analysts and market researchers.

Within one generation, Vietnam has been transformed from a war-battered communist command economy with food stamps and the threat of famine into Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economy, dr

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