The Vietnamese Professionals of America, Inc.


Prospects for the Constituencies of Vietnam in Changing Times

Friday November 16, 2001

Caldwell Hall, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.


Conference Announcement

While the process of Vietnamese renovation, Doi Moi, has yielded some positive results since its inception in 1986, Vietnam's economic growth has slowed appreciably in recent years. Much needed structural reforms have been sidetracked. As a result, Vietnam is further lagging behind its neighbors and counterparts. China's GDP per capita is now almost three times larger than Vietnam's while the two countries were at the same level in 1975. Based on the best results of the Doi Moi period, it is estimated that it would take Vietnam 25 years to catch up with Thailand.

The challenges faced by Vietnam are daunting. The livelihood of eighty percent of its population is still associated with the agrarian sector, when agricultural activities are historically known to only constitute a short term and modest contribution to economic development. More than half of Vietnam's population is now under 30 years-old. Overall, it is estimated that more than one million new jobs need to be created each year in order to meet the employment of Vietnam's fast growing population.

The conference will take place during a potentially significant moment. The Ninth Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party was held in April 2001 where a new leadership has emerged. On the external front, the United States-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), signed on July 13, 2000, is awaiting the signature of President G. Bush. The formal ratification of the BTA by Vietnam will probably take place at the November session of the National Assembly..

In facing changes, it is important to equip all sectors of the society to take advantage of the internal and external challenges rather than be undermined by them. Progress will require the population at large to have a stake in society. In order to support and enable the various constituencies of the population to become active participants in societal changes and reform processes, their specific needs and issues have to be addressed. Formulating practical alternatives that promote broad-based improvements for the Vietnamese people represents a central dimension.

The intent of the conference is to provide a forum where academicians and field experts will present and debate issues and recommendations in a balanced and open-minded fashion, with a view toward promoting the achievement of an equitable, prosperous society for the Vietnamese people. The conference topics will focus on the current dynamics in the Vietnamese society; the challenges faced by various constituencies of Vietnam, and proposed alternatives that would enable them to become stakeholders in the process of changes.


Conference Program


Honorary Conference Chairman: Professor Robert A. Scalapino, Robson Research Professor Emeritus of Government, University of California, Berkeley.

8:00 - 9:00 Registration and breakfast

9:00 - 9:05 Welcome remarks, Thuan V. Truong, VPA

Speakers and Panelists Biographies

Panel I: "The Political Leadership of Vietnam, Issues and Challenges", moderated by Mr. Lacy A. Wright, Jr., Wright International, Inc.

11:30 - 12:30. Panel I discussions

12:45 - 13:45. Lunch

Panel II: "The Other Constituencies of Vietnam, Issues and Challenges", moderated by Prof. Quansheng Zhao, American University

16:15 - 17:00. Panel II discussions

17:00 - 17:10. Closing remarks, Mr. Huan Phan, VPA