During the centuries of Chinese and Vietnamese imperial rule, Vietnam’s society was predominantly agrarian. Its major source of wealth was rice. Although some manufacturing and trade existed, they received little official encouragement and occupied minor segments of the gross domestic product (GDP). Under French colonial rule, agriculture continued to occupy the primary place in the national economy, although emphasis shifted to the cultivation of export crops. In addition to rice, these crops included coffee, tea, rubber, and other tropical products. Small industrial and commercial sectors developed, notably in the major cities, but their growth was limited because colonial officials were determined to avoid competition with goods produced in France.
After partition in 1954 the governments of North and South Vietnam sought to develop their national economies, although they established different economic systems with different resources and trading partners. The North operated under a highly centralized, planned economy, whereas the South mostly maintained a free-market system that had some government involvement. After reunification in 1976 the North gradually extended its centrally planned economy throughout the country. In 1986, however, the government launched a reform program to move toward a mixed economy that operates under private as well as collective or state control. As a result, Vietnam entered a period of rapid development. By 2007 GDP had risen to $68.6 billion, increasing at an annual rate of 8.5 percent in the 1990s. However, per capita incomes remained low, averaging about $806.10 a year. The services sector contributed 38 percent of GDP; industry, 42 percent; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing, 20 percent. "Vietnam" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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