September 14, 2010: U.S.-Vietnam Relations Conference

(Click to enlarge) From left to right: Panelists Satu Limaye, East-West Center in Washington, Professor Nguyen Manh Hung, George Mason University, Joe Yun, U.S. State Department, and Amb. Le Van Bang discuss U.S.-Vietnam political relations.

(Click to enlarge) From left to right: Panelists Tami Overby, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Barbara Weisel, U.S. Trade Representative Office, Louis Nguyen, Saigon Asset Management, and Brian Huseman, Intel Corportation discuss U.S.-Vienam economic relations.

(Click to enlarge) Senator Jim Webb addresses the conference guests.

U.S.-Vietnam Relations: "Where we have been and where we are going next"


(Washington, D.C.) September 14- As the United States and Vietnam celebrate the 15th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, there is much optimism, on both sides, that economic and political ties will continue to grow stronger. The East-West Center in Washington, in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Office of Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), hosted a conference which featured Senator Jim Webb; Mr. Truong Dinh Tuyen, former Vietnamese trade minister; Dr. Satu Limaye, director, East-West Center in Washington; Mr. Joe Yun, deputy assistant secretary, East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau, U.S. Department of State; Professor Nguyen Manh Hung, George Mason University; Ambassador Le Van Bang, former Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States; Tami Overby, vice president for Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Barbara Weisel, assistant U.S. trade representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, United States Trade Representative Office; Mr. Louis Nguyen, chairman and CEO, Saigon Asset Management; Mr. Brian Huseman, manager of public policy, Intel Corporation; and Ambassador Le Cong Phung, ambassador to the United States, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The United States and Vietnam are developing increasing bilateral economic, diplomatic and security links and share many common regional security interests, such as maritime security, energy security, non-proliferation and regional stability. Senator Webb emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship, stating that it was one of the most important in the world, and that he hoped the two countries would be able to “move forward together.” Professor Nguyen characterized bilateral security relations as showing “slow but steady progress in a positive direction.” He explained that the future of these relations will depend heavily on the perception of a rising China, the United States’ view of Vietnam’s strategic importance, Vietnam’s views of U.S. capability and intention and relations between Vietnam and the Vietnamese-American population. Mr. Yun hoped that both governments would continue to work together in various regional fora, and discuss difficult topics, such as democracy and human rights.

Former Minister Tuong lauded the tremendous growth in economic relations between the two countries since the normalization of relations. Truong noted that even before 2006, and Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), trade had been increasing considerably. Currently, the United States is the leading investor in Vietnam, and as of 2009, 506 investment projects are based in Vietnam. The U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), which was signed in December of 2001, was a major turning point in economic relations. Ms. Weisel argued that through the BTA, the Vietnamese government was able to reform the economy, develop the private sector and create jobs, which then increased the country’s competitiveness. The 3300% growth in trade with Vietnam, since 1995, has also increased the Vietnamese people’s real income while lowering poverty. Today, Vietnam is a member of the WTO, has signed the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and is an associate member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Leaders in Vietnam are also aware of their country’s great potential and are keen on promoting Vietnam’s attractiveness for businesses and investment. The young, hard-working population and low-cost location makes the country quite a desirable business environment to companies, such as Intel, which recently built a new factory in Vietnam.

Related Publication : Asia Pacific Bulletin No. 69 , by Nguyen Manh Hung