The tertiary sector has seen its share of gross domestic product gradually increase, reaching second place after the secondary sector, contributing to more than a third of GDP and occupying a quarter of the active population. The financial sector, whose restructuring began in the late 1980s, was adapted to the needs of an expanding market economy: the State Bank of Vietnam, which until 1988 had a monopoly on the banking sector, was joined by commercial banks and foreign institutions, in which state participation has become increasingly limited and the offer of services wider. The reunification of the country has given new impetus to internal trade also due to the diversity of resources between the northern and southern regions. Foreign trade has revitalized itself; Viet Nam mainly imports machinery (especially agricultural and mining equipment), fuels, fertilizers, while exports are mainly represented by oil, coal, fabrics, as well as traditional handicraft products. The exchange takes place mainly with Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong, Taiwan, North Korea. The trade balance became active in 1999.
The territorial configuration of Viet Nam, with the presence of the long Annamite chain, “pushed” the communication routes to follow the coast to structure real networks only in the great plains. The railway and road systems, healed in principle from the enormous damage caused by the war, have undergone a great expansion, especially of course as regards the connections between the North and the South of the country. Main communication nodes are Hanoi, which includes, among other things, the railway lines that go north (connecting Viet Nam with China through Lao Cai and Yunnan and along the valley of the Pearl River), and Thanh Phô Hô Chí Minh, from which important roads branch off to the south and to the Cambodia. The road network extends for a total of 137,359 km, (less than half paved) the rail network for 2671 km (2005): the main line is naturally the Hanoi-Thanh Phô Hô Chí Minh. For international connections, the country can count on various modernly equipped ports, in particular those of Haiphong, the largest seaport in Viet Nam connected by rail and expressway with the capital, of Đa Nang and Thanh Phô Hô Chí Minh. Air communications are less developed, managed by Hang Khong Viet-Nam (Vietnamese Airlines); as well as some minor airports – Đa Nang, Hue, Nha Trang etc. – Viet Nam has international airports in Hanoi and Thanh Phô Hô Chí Minh.
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ECONOMY: INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
It is estimated that in the years between 1965 and 1973, in the most dramatic phase of the conflict, companies have lost approx. 70% of their production capacity; however, already in the following years in some sectors the previous values had been recovered. The presence of deposits of both coal and various metallic minerals has allowed the birth of a modest basic industry, which was strengthened by the mid-1980s, especially in the southern regions. There are therefore iron and steel plants (steel and cast iron), metallurgical (in particular a certain importance has the metallurgy of zinc, in Quang Yen), mechanical (bicycle and other vehicle factories, agricultural machinery and railway material, various tools, etc. which companies have joined for the assembly of radio and television sets, with factories essentially located in Hanoi, Haiphong, Thanh Phô Hô Chí Minh), finally shipbuilding complexes (in Haiphong). The chemical industry is also fairly represented, providing nitrogen fertilizers, sulfuric and hydrochloric acids, caustic soda, etc. Traditional and more ancient sectors retain their importance, such as textiles (which mainly produces cotton fabrics and yarns) and food, including sugar refineries, oil mills, rice mills, breweries, fish canning plants, tea processing plants, etc.. There are also cement factories and factories of building materials, paper mills, sawmills, furniture factories, rubber factories, glass factories, tobacco factories (the country is the second Asian producer of cigars and cigarettes), porcelain etc. Shoe factories have progressively increased production and their impact on the sector’s GDP. § Viet Nam appears to be quite favored in terms of underground resources; An increasing quantity of coal is extracted annually from the Quang Yen fields near Haiphong. A good consistency have the phosphates (present in Lao Cai and Long Cuong), salt and various metallic minerals such as gold, iron, zinc and tin. The recent discovery and subsequent exploitation of oil fields has revived the sector and fuels exports even if, given the low refining potential, most of the exports are for crude oil. Viet Nam has natural gas reserves whose potential is not yet fully used. To meet the energy needs, coal-fired thermal power stations and a hydroelectric plant (Hoa Binh), activated in 1994, which supplies almost half of the necessary energy, are in operation.