The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began its relationship with Vietnam in 1989 with programs assisting disabled persons and has expanded its influence on Vietnamese society and its markets. The foreign aid agency primarily focuses on Vietnam’s economic productivity, education systems, health and environment, amongst other pressing issues.
Fostering Economic Growth
USAID programs offer support by improving the business ventures of Vietnamese enterprises and governance capacity. USAID programs are aiming to increase Vietnam’s economy to an upper-middle-income status by 2035 through efforts to increase productivity and competition amongst small businesses, address economic policies and emphasize sustainability.
Existing programs promote global trade and international commerce by stimulating competition in private sectors and developing leadership and management skills for provincial leaders. USAID programs in Vietnam create a further expanding market with small and medium businesses that cooperate with global supply chains. Boosting Vietnam’s trade reach beyond localities creates a more inclusive, productive and accessible market for vulnerable populations.
Efforts to increase sustainability go hand-in-hand with USAID’s environmental protection programs. Shifting reliance on renewable energy sources has been a goal of USAID in partnership with Vietnam Urban Energy Security (VUES) to stimulate investments and commercialization. The focus on sustainability and economic growth aims to provide opportunities for vulnerable populations in poverty to gain access to business ventures that can bring social mobility and stability.
Health and COVID-19 Recovery
USAID invested more than $1 billion in Vietnamese health assistance programs to prevent and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and zoonotic diseases in the past 20 years. Global health security projects aim to train health workers, monitor possible health threats from animals and/or contagions and prepare appropriate responses to public health emergencies that may arise in the future. For example, the One Health Workforce project will provide training at universities for almost 1,700 students in various health care disciplines – not only enhancing the job force with academic opportunities and skills for the next generation but also improving the health security of the country.
Vietnam has also received $23.4 million in COVID-19 assistance including vaccine doses, ventilators, emergency response systems and health facilities. USAID’s MOMENTUM project addressed low immunization rates and a lack of accessibility to COVID-19 vaccine doses in provinces without properly trained medical health professionals and resources due to geographic and socio-economic barriers.
In the first six months of its implementation, the program trained almost 4,000 staff members and placed 716 mobile vaccination sites in mountainous provinces that otherwise experienced neglect in terms of health security amid the pandemic.
Higher Education System Modernization
One step USAID programs in Vietnam are taking to provide access to knowledge and skills required for socio-economic prosperity is focusing on improving academic opportunities. USAID recognizes that in order to improve Vietnam’s status from its current standing as a lower-middle income country, the labor force would benefit from modernization and advancement in skills to keep up with an ever-changing job market.
The government is appropriating funds and creating partnerships between Vietnamese universities and American higher education institutions like Indiana University to improve academic quality, research and innovation in the Southeast Asian country. American universities will give nearly 150,000 Vietnamese students the opportunity to pursue academic endeavors that reflect the future of the job market through academic partnerships and socio-economic growth within the country.
USAID programs in Vietnam have reflected the strengthening relationship between the United States and Vietnamese governments with financial investments and support that could benefit the economy on local and international levels. Economic support, educational advancements and emergency relief that the U.S. provided could allow Vietnam to eventually become an independent and thriving country.
– Nethya Samarakkodige