Opening the article, entitled “How Vietnam rose to become an ASEAN star”, is the scene of Ho Chi Minh City at 7am with busy life of a dynamic city.

“Glass-faced skyscrapers adorn its skyline. Young professionals are trying to navigate through the busy traffic on their motorbikes. Hawkers are selling fast food such as famous Banh Mi by the side of the road. There is a veritable energy, and only one that is present in an aspiring society and a growing economy,” it read.

Within walking distance of District One stands the War Remnants Museum, which houses photographs, literature, and objects from the Vietnam War, it said, adding that one can't help but reflect on the devastation and suffering the war brought on the country.

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A view of Ho Chi Minh City

After seeing the contrast, it's a wonder how Vietnam managed to get to where it is today, it said.

It pointed out that while courting foreign investments, Vietnam also paid attention to reforms at home by directing public investments to education and infrastructure building. According to the World Bank, Vietnam spent a whopping 5.7 percent of GDP on education, even higher than the OECD (a group of developed economies) average, topping economic powerhouses like the US, Germany, Australia, and the UK.

The reforms also boosted local entrepreneurship, resulting in a plethora of small and medium businesses opening around the country. Today, Vietnam is challenging the regional leaders, Singapore and Indonesia, in the start-up space. The government is actively attempting to lure back local talent that had gone abroad to study and work.

The data and rankings reflect all these efforts. Vietnam's GDP has grown every single year since 1981, even during the dot com bust and the global financial crisis. GDP growth for 2018 came in at an impressive 7.1 percent, it noted.

Meanwhile, per capita GDP has grown from 231 USD in 1985 to 2,343 USD in 2017. The country's annual Foreign Direct Investment has grown by over seven times between 1996 and 2018. Vietnam has made strides in ease of doing business too with its ranking jumping from 90 in 2010 to 69 in 2018.

With a median age at just over 30 years old, Vietnam's young and vibrant workforce can help the country move further ahead in manufacturing.

The services sector, though, is lagging compared to its neighbors, who command a higher share of GDP from the sector.

There are many challenges that Vietnam needs to overcome in order to move into the middle-income category but its journey so far has been impressive, it commented.

Source: VNA