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Vietnam's socioeconomic development is being stifled by a lack of science and technology (S&T) skills, lack of investment in S&T and poor policies, policymakers have admitted.

In recent years the country has made progress in areas such as agriculture, disease diagnosis and satellite technology, as well as establishing strong international research ties, a meeting of almost 500 representatives of Vietnamese S&T organisations heard last month (26 December).

The Ministry of Science and Technology has also overhauled the operations of state-run science organisations to improve their independence and capacity to get new technologies into markets, deputy minister of S&T Le Dinh Tien told the meeting.

But investment in S&T is just US$5 per person — compared with US$20 in China — and Vietnamese scientists are relatively poorly qualified. None of the country's research organisations meets international standards, they said.

Hoang Van Phong, minister of S&T, acknowledged that policies are often barriers to S&T development and said the ministry will create policies that aid scientific breakthroughs, while adding that better financial policies are also vital.