USTR and Vietnamese Prime Minister Meet
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab met in Washington Monday with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and senior members of his economic team to welcome the rapid growth in U.S.-Vietnamese economic ties and to discuss next steps in the steady expansion of our bilateral trade and investment relations. They also commended the launch of the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations.
“A bilateral investment treaty will build on the already strong economic ties between the United States and Vietnam, one of the fastest growing markets for U.S. exports,” Ambassador Schwab said. “When concluded, this agreement will provide U.S. investors in Vietnam with key legal protections and enhanced market access with important direct and collateral benefits for U.S. exporters and consumers alike.”
Ambassador Schwab and Prime Minister Dung also exchanged views on Vietnam’s economic reform efforts and the implementation of its World Trade Organization’s (WTO) accession commitments, which are on track. They discussed the need for further efforts to provide enhanced intellectual property rights protection in Vietnam and continued cooperation on agricultural issues, including access to the Vietnamese market for all cuts and all ages of U.S. beef and beef products, consistent with OIE standards, as well as access to the U.S. market for Vietnamese fruits.
Ambassador Schwab welcomed Vietnam’s move to lift its ban on rice exports and underscored the importance of open trade regimes in ensuring adequate global food supplies. She applauded the signing last week of an agreement to facilitate bilateral trade in telecommunications equipment and Vietnam’s intent to become an observer to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement.
Trade between the United States and Vietnam has grown rapidly since the conclusion of the U.S.-Vietnam BTA in 2000, followed by normalization of trade relations in 2001. Two-way goods trade between United States and Vietnam totaled $12.5 billion in 2007, up 30 percent over 2006 and up more than 700 percent since 2001. U.S. goods exports to Vietnam in 2007 totaled $1.9 billion, an increase of 73 percent from 2006. Meanwhile, U.S. foreign direct investment in Vietnam also has grown, totaling $339 million in 2006, the most recent available data, up over 95 percent since 2001.
Under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), signed last year, the United States and Vietnam have been holding exploratory talks on the launch of negotiations of a BIT. The United States negotiates BITs on the basis of a model text that provides high standards of investment protection and market access commitments. BITs not only protect U.S. investors but can also be a valuable tool in guiding and implementing economic reforms and a stronger, more open investment regime. The U.S. model text is substantively similar to the investment chapters of the free trade agreements the United States has concluded in recent years and is the basis for treaties recently concluded with Uruguay (2005) and Rwanda (2008). The United States has 40 BITs in force.
On June 19, 2008, the United States and Vietnam concluded an agreement to facilitate trade in telecommunications and information technology (IT) equipment. This Mutual Recognition Agreement for Conformity Assessment will permit U.S. authorities to designate laboratories in the United States as eligible to test telecommunications and IT equipment for compliance with Vietnam’s telecommunications regulatory requirements and to have the results of such testing recognized by Vietnamese authorities. By permitting tests to be conducted in the United States, the agreement will lead to a reduction in the costs and time involved in exporting U.S. telecommunications and IT equipment to Vietnam.
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