US, Vietnam Reach Multi-Billion Dollar Trade Deal During Prime Minister's Visit

Posted June 01, 2017

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is the first leader to visit the Trump White House from Southeast Asia, where the USA vies with China for influence.

Earlier on Tuesday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met Vietnamese officials to settle agreements ahead of the summit, which may see Vietnam buying more American aircraft.

Political analyst Alexander Vuving from the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies said the Trump administration attaches importance to promoting ties with Vietnam in light of the country's strategic role in Asia.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has expressed his wish that, with its reputation and influence, the Nasdaq Stock Market would further expand co-operation with and provide stronger assistance for Vietnamese enterprises, including the VNG Joint Stock Company, to list their shares on the United States stock market.

"Vietnam will increase the import of high technologies and services from the United States, and on the occasion of this visit, many important deals will be made", Mr Phuc said at a US Chamber of Commerce dinner on Tuesday evening.

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"AmCham supports a path towards a US-Vietnam free trade agreement which would help increase bilateral trade and investment, and which would create wealth and job opportunities for people in both countries", he said.

The capital flow from the U.S. is expected to open up a new chapter in investment cooperation with Vietnam, according to Dau tu (Investment) newspaper.

General Electric (GE) Power chief executive Steve Bolze said GE would sign new business deals worth about US$6 billion with Vietnam. He gave no details.

Phuc told Trump the relationship had undergone "significant upheavals in history", but that the two countries were now "comprehensive partners".

Mr Lighthizer at the same dinner event noted: "Over the last decade our bilateral trade deficit has risen from about US$7 billion to almost US$32 billion". Vietnam also wants the USA to recognise it as a market economy.

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To do so, Mr Phuc plans to highlight all the United States jobs his nation supports through imports of American goods like airplanes, engine turbines and maize.

"The role of the USA in the region is important - that is indisputable", said Tran Viet Thai, a deputy director general at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in Hanoi, where the country's diplomats are trained. Hanoi also seeks enhanced security cooperation with Washington in the face of expansive Chinese territorial claims and artificial island building in the South China Sea.

Through the visit, Vietnam could gain an insight into President Trump's policies and stance on Southeast Asia and East Asia, particularly the East Sea issue.

The warming of relations bodes well for the United States, particularly as traditional regional allies Thailand and the Philippines seek to strengthen ties with China over disagreements with Washington.

"Working closely together, our trade and investment ties have grown significantly since we normalised relations in 1995".

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"Vietnam lies sixth on the list of those with a trade surplus, but Vietnam's 30 billion plus surplus is a fraction of China's surplus".