In 30 years Vietnam has gone from one of the poorest nations on this planet to one of the most dynamic countries in Asia. Still, there’s plenty of work to be done. Here are the key moments.

 

1986

Doi moi (Renovation) is launched at the 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

 

1987

In December, the country is opened to foreign investment and the first licensed projects are registered in Vietnam the following year. In just two years, 211 projects are agreed with a registered capital of US$1.6 billion.

 

1987

Australian telecommunications giant OTC works with the Vietnamese government to launch the Vietnam Vista satellite earth station. By 1989 the corporation has helped Vietnam upgrade its telecommunications system. Prior to this, Vietnam only had limited international telecommunications reach out of the country.

 

1988

The Land Law is enacted which recognises private land-use rights for citizens of Vietnam. Farmers are permitted to use their land long-term and sell their products on the free market. They are no longer obliged to participate in cooperatives.

 

1989

The collapse of the Soviet Union creates an urgency in Vietnam to reposition the economy so it is more outward-looking.

 

1990

Five young artists based in Hanoi, who become known as The Gang of Five, hold their first exhibition. Their work ushers in a new period of contemporary art in Vietnam

 

1991

A professor at the Australian National University, Rob Hurle, brings a modem to Vietnam, and is the considered to be the first person to connect the country to the internet. Official connection to the internet commences in 1997.

 

1992

The Vietnamese constitution recognises the role of the private sector in the economy. This is preceded in 1990 by the Law on Private Enterprises. The law provides a legal basis for private business.

 

1994

President Bill Clinton ends the US trade embargo with Vietnam. As a result, multi-national companies such as Coca-Cola enter the country. Prior to building a factory outside of Hanoi, Coca-Cola products are shipped in from Cambodia.

 

1995

Apollo Vietnam opens in Hanoi. It is the first fully foreign-owned English language training company in Vietnam. Other language schools soon follow, kick-starting a sustained period of English-language training.

 

1995

Vietnam becomes the seventh member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is the first new entrant since Brunei joined in 1984.

 

1997

Pete Peterson is appointed the first US ambassador to Vietnam since the end of the war.

The Ho Chi Minh City skyline in 2015


2000

US President Bill Clinton visits Vietnam from Nov. 16 to Nov. 19. The following year a bilateral trade agreement is signed between the two countries.

 

2000

The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HoSTC) is formed. In 2007 it is renamed and upgraded to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE). Together with the visit of President Clinton, it ushers in seven years of exponential growth.

 

2001

Australian tertiary education institution, RMIT University, opens in Ho Chi Minh City. It is the first international university to operate a campus in Vietnam

 

2003

My Dinh National Stadium is completed in Hanoi West. It ushers in the start of extensive suburban development in the area. The new stadium allows Vietnam to host the Southeast Asian Games for the first time in the country’s history.

 

2004

From a price of approximately US$0.40 (VND6,000 per litre at the time), fuel prices start to rise. In five years they almost double, reaching a peak of US$1.20 (VND25,000 per litre) in 2013.

 

2006

In anticipation of joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), foreign investment laws are revised to make it easier to invest in Vietnam.

 

2007

Vietnam joins the WTO. From pariah state to member of the WTO in under 15 years is a notable achievement. Together with the revised investment laws, this represents a pivotal moment in the economic development of Vietnam.

 

2008

Widening trade imbalances, rising inflation and a bursting credit and property bubble cause the economy to go into recession. The Vietnamese dong is devalued three times in the space of a year in an attempt to keep the export-driven economy afloat.

 

2009

Real estate prices in Vietnam crash. It takes more than five years for prices to reach the same levels they were in 2008.

 

2009

Despite limited access, there is an exponential rise in new Facebook accounts in Vietnam. By the end of 2016, the country has 34.7 million users.

 

2010

The first expressway, from Ho Chi Minh City to Trung Luong, opens. It is part of the North-South Expressway which will eventually connect Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City. By 2020 there will be 2,500km of expressway in Vietnam.

 

2010

From a poverty headcount of 58% in the early 1990s, according to the World Bank, the figure in 2010 has fallen to around 10%. At the same time, inequality is rising. Ethnic minorities now account for 65% of the poorest 10% of the population.

 

2011

Work starts on the Hanoi Metro System. The master plan for the Hanoi Capital Region includes nine lines that are expect to transport over 3 million passengers a day.

 

2011

Landmark 72 in the Keangnam Tower in Hanoi is completed. It is the tallest building in Vietnam, taking the mantle from the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City, a structure that was completed the previous year.

Hoang Cau Bridge in Hanoi


2012

The first Viet Pride Rally is held in Hanoi. All the participants are on bicycles or motorbikes.

 

2012

Work begins on the first line of the Ho Chi Minh City Metro system. The system is scheduled to be operational by 2020.

 

2013

After years of language training from an early age, the numbers of English-speaking Vietnamese entering the workforce increases significantly. This has a positive impact on the international orientation of Vietnam.

 

2013

There is a decline in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) investment in Vietnam. This corresponds with an increase in the development of franchise chains in the country, bringing in big-name brands in a range of industries. This is coupled with a growth in large-scale corporate investment.

 

2014

McDonald’s opens its first store in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. For the first time, the country is included on the Big Mac index.

 

2014

Amid much protest, Saigon Tax Trade Centre, a former French-built department store, is torn to the ground. It is part of the redevelopment of central Ho Chi Minh City.

 

2015

Foreigners are allowed to buy property in Vietnam for the first time. Properties are sold with 50-year leases. A maximum of 30 percent of apartments in a block and 250 houses in a given ward may be sold to non-Vietnamese.

 

2016

A number of environmental disasters take place in Vietnam, including the mass death of fish in Hanoi’s West Lake. The disasters bring environmental concerns into the public domain.

 

2016

Then-president Barack Obama visits Vietnam to further cement US-Vietnamese bilateral relations. Obama is pictured eating bun cha in a local Hanoi restaurant.

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