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Vietnam, US welcome burgeoning economic ties   2008-06-26 - Agencies

US President George W. Bush applauded Vietnam’s efforts to address its economic problems and called for bolstering the already strong bilateral trade at a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung Tuesday.

 
US President George W. Bush (R) listens to Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Tuesday.  

 

 

Speaking to the press after their talks Tuesday (US time), he announced the two countries have agreed to begin talks for a bilateral investment treaty.

He hailed the strides the Vietnamese government has been making toward containing inflation, which touched 25.2 percent year-on-year last month, and stabilizing the economy.

Bush also fondly recalled his visit to Vietnam in November 2006 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, where he and his wife were welcomed with warmth and hospitality.

PM Dung too appreciated the warm hospitality the Vietnamese entourage has received during its current visit.

Treaty talks to boost trade

With the two countries set for talks on the bilateral investment treaty, the accord is believed to “build on the already strong economic ties between the US and Vietnam, one of the fastest growing markets for US exports,” AFP quoted US Trade Representative Susan Schwab as saying.

She said further that, once wrapped up, it would provide US investors in Vietnam key legal protections and enhanced market access with “important direct and collateral benefits for US exporters and consumers alike.”

Also on Tuesday, Dung witnessed together with US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez the signing of several contracts and agreements.

They would provide “expanded access for US companies to Vietnam’s growing market,” AFP cited the Commerce Department as saying.

According to AFP, a memorandum of cooperation was also signed between Vietrade, the Vietnamese trade promotion agency, and the US Foreign and Commercial Service.

The Commerce Department said the new business deals support jobs in the US and further increase US exports to Vietnam, which grew almost 73 percent in 2007 and more than 133 percent year last April from a year ago.

American companies signing contracts with their Vietnamese counterparts were aluminum giant Alcoa, electronic communications manufacturer Motorola and travel technology firm Sabre Holdings.

Alcoa and Gannon were among the 23 American companies that accompanied Gutierrez’s business development mission to Vietnam last November.

Alcoa signed an agreement with Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group for developing the Vietnamese aluminum industry.

Motorola and Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group signed contracts worth US$28 million for the expansion of a GSM mobile phone network across 12 northern Vietnamese provinces.

Sabre Holdings and Vietnam Airlines signed a definitive memorandum of understanding for the purchase of an Internet-booking engine, e-commerce solution and a passenger services system.

Two US companies received investment licenses for joint ventures: SSA Marine, for container terminals, and Gannon International, for a brewery and bottling facility.

Other activities

Also on Tuesday, Dung and his entourage met with leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and other officials from business groups and associations.

Dung also spoke by telephone with John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and senator, and held a meeting with visiting Filipino President Gloria Arroyo.

On Wednesday, Dung held a meeting with overseas Vietnamese in the US, whom he described an integral part of the country.

Vietnam and the US normalized diplomatic ties in 1995 and trade relations in 2001.

Bilateral trade rose 30 percent last year to $12.5 billion.

Dung’s began his four-day visit to the US on Monday.

Last year, President Nguyen Minh Triet became the first head of state of reunified Vietnam to visit the US since the end of the Vietnam War.

Former PM Phan Van Khai became, in 2005, the first government leader to visit the former foe.

In 2000, Bill Clinton became the first US president to visit Vietnam since the war ended in 1975.

SOME SIGNIFICANT POINTS IN THE JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED BY THE TWO COUNTRIES:

  • The two sides were unanimous about setting up a new dialogue mechanism on strategic issues pertaining to the economy, education, science, defense and security.
    Bush reiterated the US’ support for the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Vietnam.

  • Besides the planned bilateral investment treaty, he said, the US would also seriously consider Vietnam’s proposal to participate in the US’ Generalized System of Preferences scheme.

  • The US confirmed it is considering importing dragon fruit from Vietnam in the near future.

  • The two sides agreed to increase cooperation in searching for soldiers missing in action (MIA) during the Vietnam War as well as cranking up support for victims of Agent Orange.

  • The US promised to support Vietnam in developing education and combating climate change and rising sea levels.



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