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Former Bush official promotes US supply chain in Vietnam   2009-12-14 - Thanh Nien

 Vietnamese exporters can boost their business in the US market by linking with US traders and suppliers established here, said a US Trade Ambassador. 

Giving a presentation in Ho Chi Minh City last week, Susan Schwab, a former US Trade Representative under President George W. Bush, said more and more US producers, traders and suppliers were setting up shop in Vietnam as US subsidiaries around the globe were now supplying half the country’s imports.

She said local businesses here should work with these direct supply chains to boost sales in the US.

Vietnamese textiles and apparel were already intimately involved with US businesses here and their exports to the US had thus risen from US$36 million to $5.2 billion in the 2000- 2008 period, said Schwab.

She added that Vietnam was the second biggest supplier of textiles and apparel to the US after China, with the US market accounting for over half of Vietnam’s $9.1 billion in textiles and apparel exports last year.

Vietnam also increased its shoe exports to the US from 8 million to 100 million pairs in the period, according to Schwab, also former chief US negotiator during Vietnam’s accession to World Trade Organization.

But Vietnamese exports still have room to grow in the US.

The major exporters to the US – Canada, China, Mexico and Japan – each accounted for 6 to 17 percent of the US imports while Vietnamese exports still stood at 1.15 percent of the total.

Schwab said the Vietnamese government and businesses would have to be more proactive in negotiating with the US government and importers if the country wanted to boost agricultural and food exports to the US.

She said the US government had built technical barriers on sensitive imports to protect consumers in its home market. Thousands of the products are waiting for import licenses from US authorities.

It would be difficult for Vietnamese products to enter the US without bilateral government agreements to facilitate and create a platform for product licensing, she said.

The former US Trade Representative also advised Vietnamese businesses to diversify their markets as a hedge against anti-dumping measures and regional crises.

Vietnamese exporters have suffered punitive anti-dumping measures on shrimp and pangasius, or tra catfish, in the US and the country is under antidumping and countervailing investigations for plastic bags.

Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy chairwoman of the HCMC People’s Committee, said Vietnamese exports to the US fell slightly in the first nine months due to economic downturn as the country earned about $8.2 billion from exports in textile, shoes, furniture, seafood, crude oil and other products in the period. Last year, it exported $11.9 billion to the market.

Local exporters worry that protectionism and technical barriers will keep Vietnamese products from the US market, said Hong. She added that lawsuits and refusals from US partners were equally troubling.

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