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VN, US trade set to explode under TPP pact

Update: August, 01/2015 - 09:21

During the next 10 years, the US market share for Vietnamese garments is expected to double under the TPP agreement. — Photo doanhnhansaigon

HCM CITY (VNS) — Twenty years after the US and Viet Nam established diplomatic relations, bilateral trade turnover has risen 80-fold, and is expected to boom after the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, currently under negotiations, takes effect.

In 1995, bilateral trade volume was reported at US$500 million, and this year, it is estimated that it would be $40 billion. Within ten years, it could reach $50 or $60 billion.

And when negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement conclude, the trade figures could climb even higher. Besides the US and Viet Nam, the trade agreement includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore, representing 40 per cent of the global GDP.

Rena Bitter, general US consul general to HCM City, who spoke at a conference yesterday organised by the Viet Nam – US Association in HCM City on trade relations, said that 20 years ago the two countries could not have imagined the achievements of today.

She cited a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey that said 78 per cent of Vietnamese expressed a favorable view of the US.

The percentage was much higher for Vietnamese under 30 years of age, she said.

The US, with a market valued at $20 trillion, is now the No 1 market for Vietnamese exports.

Luong Van Tu, of the Viet Nam – US BTA Joint Committee, said that with TPP membership Viet Nam would improve management skills and have more access to capital and technology.

More importantly, it would have a large market for consumer goods.

He said that US – Viet Nam bilateral trade revenue would rise quickly over the next 20 years under the TPP.

Le Phuoc Vu, chairman of Hoa Sen Group, a large steel company, said with closer ties and increasing bilateral trade, Viet Nam could become the No. 1 exporter of industrial goods to the US.

"The US market has a lot of potential. With TPP, our exports to US could increase several times over," Vu said.

"If an American looks down at the label on his or her shoes, there's a 1-in-10 chance it will read Made in Viet Nam. Same for the shirt on his or her back," he said.

Clothing tops the list of Vietnamese export to the US. Viet Nam is now the second leading provider of clothes to the US after China.

Le Quoc An, consultant for the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association, said last year Viet Nam exported $10 billion of fabric and clothes to the US market, which represents a 9.2 percent import market share in the country.

Apparel and textile exports were only $1 billion in 2002 when the US – Viet Nam Bilateral Trade Agreement took effect.

Over the last 10 years, Vietnamese clothes exported to the US increased 398 per cent with an annual growth of 15 per cent, he said.

During the next 10 years, the US market share for Vietnamese garments is expected to double under the TPP agreement.

An said that US billionaire Wibur Ross had decided to invest in the garment and textile industry in Viet Nam.

The US is one of Viet Nam's biggest investors, along with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

Embassy celebrates

The Viet Nam Embassy in the US celebrated the 20th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic ties (July 12, 1995) with a ceremony in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

Addressing the event, Vietnamese Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh thanked US officials, scholars and people for their support for the development of bilateral ties over the past 20 years.

This year is a milestone in Viet Nam-US relations following General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam Nguyen Phu Trong's historic visit to the US and talks with President Barack Obama in early July.

During the visit, the two countries issued a joint vision statement to intensify their comprehensive partnership set up by Presidents Truong Tan Sang and Obama in 2013.

Vinh said in the last two decades, Viet Nam and the US had made great strides across the board, and the US was now the fourth largest investor in Viet Nam.

He added that they were also working closely with other partners within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum for regional peace, security and prosperity, including maritime security and freedom in the East Sea, water resources and sustainable development in the lower Mekong River.

At the ceremony, Senator John McCain – Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services – valued the current relations between the two countries and noted that their ties had grown beyond expectations in various aspects, including economics and education.

He said the US Congress' granting of the Trade Promotion Authority that expands President Obama's power to move ahead on the TPP was a strategic signal of the US's strengthened commitment to Asia-Pacific and its partners in the region.

However, the US and Viet Nam were facing new security challenges, McCain said, adding that amidst China's continued construction and militarisation in the East Sea, Washington sided with Viet Nam in opposing activities that changed the status quo in the waters.

The Senator also called on the US to consider easing the ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Viet Nam.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel underlined the substantial and comprehensive progress of Viet Nam-US relations over the last 20 years.

The US was currently hosting 17,000 Vietnamese students and, about 85,000Vietnamese tourists visited the US last year. Educational co-operation and people-to-people exchanges were the highlights of their bonds, he said.

Ties marked in Ha Noi

The Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organisations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also held a banquet on Thursday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the normalisation of Viet Nam-US diplomatic relations.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister Ha Kim Ngoc highlighted the remarkable achievements made by the two countries over the past two decades, while expressing his gratitude for the efforts made by previous generations to establish and nurture relations.

The two countries had moved towards co-operation in various fields, the Deputy Minister said, adding that through their comprehensive strategic partnership, Viet Nam and the US would contribute greatly to the maintenance of peace, sustainability and co-operation in the region.

US Ambassador to Viet Nam Ted Osius said the two sides had addressed the consequences of the war and discussed measures to further collaboration since the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The Ambassador said he was impressed by the growth in bilateral trade, which is currently valued at approximately US$40 billion per year, a 100-fold increase compared to 20 years ago. He highlighted that this figure was expected to rise even further once the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed. — VNS

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