Vietnam's economic growth slowed to 4.38 percent in the first half of 2012, its most sluggish rate for three years as the government prioritises fighting inflation, data released Friday showed.
The figure from the General Statistics Office (GSO) falls short of the 5.63 percent growth achieved over the same period last year and lags a government target of 6 to 6.5 percent growth for the whole of 2012.
Vietnam posted a record 8.4 percent growth in 2005 but economic expansion has edged down since with businesses struggling to combat high inflation and a weak currency.
Industrial growth was sluggish at 3.81 percent while agriculture was also weak at 2.81 percent after a virus affected pigs, the GSO said.
"Economic growth in the first half is low due to difficulties in several sectors, especially in industrial production," according to the GSO report.
Analysts said the figures do not augur well for the months ahead.
"We expect that growth will disappoint for the rest of this year and next," Capital Economics said in briefing statement.
"We are keeping our forecasts for 2012 and 2013 at 5.0 percent and 5.5 percent respectively," it said, adding Friday's figures "represent a significant slowdown from the impressive rates... Vietnam was recording in the the middle of the last decade."
The communist country's government has successfully curbed high inflation with consumer prices slowing to their weakest pace in more than two years in June, at 6.9 percent year-on-year.
Economists have said the sharp cut in inflation is the result of tighter monetary policy and the fall of purchasing power in the local market.
Vietnam had for years enjoyed strong growth. But double-digit inflation, a large trade deficit and a currency in free fall forced the ruling Communist Party to seek a new development model.
Figures released Thursday showed the country had slashed its first half trade deficit by a factor of nearly ten to $690 million, a success in its fight against major macroeconomic imbalances.