Vietnam started a process of economic reform in 1986 and is presently opening up its economy to regional and global economic forces. As a result, Vietnam faces significant challenges in the area of economic policy analysis. This paper reviews insights emerging from a detailed social accounting matrix (SAM), compiled for the year 2000. The SAM reflects Vietnam’s heavy reliance on primary sector activities, but we also find that agricultural potential could be expanded significantly. In other sectors, the critical importance of sustained commitments to human capital development is apparent. In this context, the international donor community can support the ongoing transformation process through concerted training and capacity building initiatives that have proven successful elsewhere in the region.