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The reform process in Vietnam, however, has been uneven.
It was recognized even in 1996 that the reforms were not keeping pace with economic development.
The non-tariff barriers (NTBs) such as quantitative restrictions and foreign exchange management used to be applied quite substantially to balance "supply and demand of the economy" (between domestic production plus imported goods and domestic consumption) in order to protect domestic production and regulate consumption .
The quantitative control has been introduced since 1994 and the number of such goods under the quantitative control was 5 in 1996, 8 in 19, 16 in 1999, and 12 in 2000 (petroleum, fertilizer, steel, cement, paper, sugar, liquors, motorbike, passenger cars, ceramic and granite tiles, and refined vegetable oil).
Further relaxation can be observed in 2001 (Decision 46/2001/QD-TTg).
Most recent, Vietnam has also joined regional integration clubs such as ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (2002) and ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (2003).
The process of trade liberalization and international integration creates new opportunities and huge benefits for Vietnam.
At the same time, it may also cause some negative socio-economic impacts, especially in the short run and impose serious challenges to Vietnam's further development.
The trading right before 1989 was essentially characterized by the state monopoly in foreign trade.
Since 1989, together with the market-oriented reforms, the entry into trading activities has been gradually relaxed.