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August 2012

From rice to robots: Is Vietnam's workforce ready for the future? Let us know what you think!

Christian Bodewig's picture

Cũng có ở Tiếng việt

As a member of the WTO since 2007 and located in the middle of fast-growing East Asia, Vietnam has earned a reputation as a smart place to invest. Its people are a major asset in attracting foreign investors: Vietnam can boast of its comparatively low wages and a large, young and hard-working labor force. Despite Vietnam’s success so far, it remains to be seen whether its workforce is ready for the next phase in the country’s development – to carry forward the transition from a largely agrarian to an industrialized economy.  Are Vietnam’s workers ready to move from low to high tech production? From rice to robots?

East Asia Pacific leads in seaport investments

David Lawrence's picture
Click image to view larger version.

In this digital age, it’s easy to forget that there is a staggering amount of physical goods moving across the globe. Most trade—80 percent by volume—moves through seaports. Trade in developing countries makes up a good chunk of the total, and is growing fast. Handshake, IFC’s quarterly journal on public-private partnerships (PPPs), reports trade in developing countries is growing at nearly 14 percent.

And a lot of this trade is happening in Asia. In its June 21, 2012 issue, the Economist reports that the center of gravity of cargo trade is shifting from Europe to Asia. So it should come as no surprise that Asia is leading investment in seaports. Handshake reports that from 2000-2011, the East Asia Pacific region accounted for nearly $14 billion—32 percent—of private investment in seaports, mainly from China. The Philippines and Singapore are also major Asian investors in seaport projects.

Much of this investment comes through PPPs. Does this really make a difference? I’d say it does. Private sector financing and expertise make seaports and shipping more efficient. This in turn benefits emerging markets, which are becoming more and more engaged in global trade.

Could seaport investments be a predictor of future trends in trade? If so, Asia will become even more of a trade hotspot than it is today.

For further information, read Issue #6 of Handshake: Air & Sea PPPs.

Keeping the Wonder in the Pacific

Aleta Moriarty's picture
The ocean represents transport, food, culture and livelihoods for people of the Pacific.

A few years ago in Papua New Guinea on a holiday I was lucky enough to spend a day with a fisherman who took me out on his dugout canoe. For hours we slowly skimmed along the surface of the ocean, the clear water providing a wonderful lens to the world below teeming with life. Fish, starfish, coral, eels, plants—a world beyond my wildest imagination.

He pointed out the plants he ate and others he used as traditional medicine. He showed me innocuous-looking creatures that would spell certain death. He showed me the craggy hiding hole of the tail-less crocodile that was the lead character in village folklore. He showed me the fish he caught that fed his family and provided him with an income and how his father had taught him to catch them, like he too had taught his children.

Life along a road in the capital of Kiribati

Laura Keenan's picture

In South Tarawa, life takes place along a road.

It is Kiribati’s capital and main atoll, made up of several small islands connected by a string of causeways. The atoll is about three meters above sea level—roughly the height of a bus—and has an average width of just 450 meters.

It is also one of the most densely populated places in the Pacific: this narrow stretch of land encompasses about half of the country’s population of 110,000 people.

Just one road runs through it all, connecting Betio in the west to Bonriki in the east. People live beside it, it takes people from village to village, to schools and hospitals, people sell their goods by the roadside, and the flow of vehicles and people is constant.