Of the world’s twenty most populous countries, it blows away number two Thailand at 122%.
The measure is calculated by adding the value of exports and imports then dividing the figure by GDP. Countries with high measures are typically rich and small. Hong Kong, Singapore and Luxembourg all have rates over 300%. Companies in these countries make products for export because the domestic market is too small consume all of their output, for which Vietnam is an outlier.
Vietnam’s exceptionally globalized economy is a result of its focus on exports for economic growth. Like China before it, Vietnam has opened up its cheap labor market to foreign investors and become a hub for low-cost manufacturing. The country is now a major exporter of electronics and apparel, with the United States and China as the main destinations for its goods.
In order to make those goods, Vietnam is a major importer of machine parts and natural resources from South Korea and China.
Globalization has been good for Vietnam. Its GDP per person grew from about US$1,500 in 1990 to about US$6,500 today, but unlike in some fast growing economies, its new prosperity has been shared.
The proportion of people in extreme poverty fell from above 70% in the early 1990s to around 10% in 2016. In a recent report, the World Bank credited the jobs created by Vietnam’s export sector for this remarkable poverty reduction.
The Vietnamese people have noticed the benefits of globalization, for which 95% of Vietnamese people said “trade is good” in a 2014 Pew Research Survey.
At the global scale, globalization is going through tough times. The UK’s exit from the EU, the rise of nationalist US President Donald Trump and the escalating trade spat between the US and China are stymieing the progress towards a more connected global economy. International trade as a share of GDP fell from 60% in 2011 to 56% in 2016 in another sign globalization’s ill health.