Vietnam gets new PM with tough task and large shoes to fill

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 7:25 AM

Phuc rises from deputy prime minister to lead a government committed to overhauling its troubled state sector and wide reforms below a U. S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade pact covering four-tenths of the global economy.

Vietnam'south parliament approved a new prime minister on Thursday, handing former bureaucrat and legislator Nguyen Xuan Phuc the challenge of maintaining the momentum of one of Asia'south fastest-growing economies.

Phuc rises from deputy prime minister to lead a government committed to overhauling its troubled state sector and wide reforms below a U. S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade pact covering four-tenths of the global economy.

The 61-year-old completes the trio of core leaders of a youthful country hooked on social media, and growing in its awareness of politics and Vietnam'south complex ties with China and the United States.

Phuc has some large shoes to fill, taking over from Nguyen Tan Dung, a tough-talking reformist whose decisiveness won him wide support but, declare experts, saw him sidelined by conservatives concerned he'd become too powerful.

Vietnam is officially ruled by consensus with key decisions made by the Communist Party'south elite politburo.

Dung had served a maximum two terms and is number longer a politburo member, although key policy makers from his government are among the new 19-member body.

"Phuc certainly will be lower key than the hard-charging Dung," said Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia specialist at Washington'south Middle for Strategic and International Studies.

"We should expect him to work within the consensus of the ruling politburo. He'll have seen the impact on Dung of his more flamboyant, independent style."

Phuc was the only candidate chosen at the party'south Jan congress. His appointment for a five-year duration was approved by four hundred seventy-five of four hundred eighty lawmakers present.

He's from the central province of Quang Nam and his expertise is management and economics. He held key posts in local politics and on legislative committees and was once head of planning and investment in Danang, Vietnam'south third-biggest city.

Phuc becomes portion of a new triumvirate with party chief Nguyen Phu Trong and President Tran Dai Quang, who was endorsed last week.

Addressing the assembly, Phuc pledged to attain targets for the economy, which grew 6.7 % in two thousand-fifteenth, tackle graft, make better the investment climate and fight to defend Vietnam's sovereignty.

Hiebert said Phuc would initially have a lower international profile than Dung, who stood up to China'south assertiveness in the S China Sea and sought tighter U. S. ties.

"Phuc will recognize that there'south wide consensus in Vietnam not to let Beijing thrust Hanoi around and hedge ties with China through closer relations with Washington," he said.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Extra reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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