Vice Chairwoman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham) Virginia Foote shared with The Hanoi Times her view on Vietnam-US relations on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
The US and Vietnam have achieved enormous successes in those 27 years and have expanded relations into all areas of cooperation – from political to strategic, economic and trade, citizen to citizen, and business to tourism. Vietnam has vaulted onto the shortlist of countries of greatest interest to US investors. US foreign direct investment in Vietnam has grown from under $1 billion in 2011 to over $2.6 billion in 2019. Since normalization, bilateral trade has grown over 200-fold, from $451 million in 1995 to $100 billion for the first time last year. Economists expect trade with the United States to continue thriving and grow exponentially.
Both sides will continue to have very important programs to address war legacy issues, including accounting for US and Vietnamese soldiers missing in action and the remediation of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and dioxin/Agent Orange. This effort will undoubtedly increase the mutual trust between the two countries and underscores the significant progress made in the relationship since normalization.
I believe in the future, we will continue to build strong ties for the future with the trade and investment pillar especially. With Vietnam’s participation in the first round of dialogue on IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework) recently, Vietnam and US ties will certainly get stronger than before.
It was a very impactful trip with speeches and many dozen meetings in four US cities. In addition to government meetings, hundreds of businesses, NGOs, think tanks, and citizen groups met with the Prime Minister and exchanged views on a wide range of topics, mostly focusing on health, climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Both Vietnam and the US sides had made many meaningful exchanges regarding biomedical research vaccines, biotechnology, and the development of low-cost vaccines for the larger population in the developing countries or promoting cybersecurity and space research with select countries in South East Asia.
This trip continues the 27 years of bilateral visits and sets a very positive path for the future.
At the moment, there are two big opportunities for the US and Vietnam to tighten the trade relationship between the two countries, which are the CPTPP and the IPEF. While I wish the US would consider rejoining the CPTPP, the business community will work hard to ensure the IPEF provides benefits and helps all participants come to an additional consensus on global standards for new areas such as digital, and some issues highlighted during the pandemic such as supply chain difficulties and healthcare needs and investments can also be addressed.
Key to these energy concerns is decisions and investments made now through 2030. US supply chain investors need to have access to renewable energy in the short term, not just in the out years of the COP26 goals. Access to clean energy is becoming increasingly imperative for cross-border trade and consumer preferences and a strong goal for Vietnam. To assist Vietnam in these efforts to develop a cleaner energy mix, US public and private finance and investors are very interested in supporting transmission needs, smart grid upgrades, solar and wind projects, battery storage, direct power purchase agreements for renewables, energy innovation for the future, in addition to offshore gas and LNG projects. Additionally, the US and other countries in the G7 are building a Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), for which they aim to collectively mobilize $600 billion by 2027 for sustainable energy. With the US suggestion, the G7 is engaging with Vietnam toward partnerships that will provide financing to assist in decarbonization and move toward cleaner energy sources based on the PGII.
We are also very interested in fast-tracking the digitalization drive. All companies, large and small, governments, and the public in general benefit from a digital environment that is widespread, fast, safe, effective, and with standards that are globally compatible.
Asia, and Southeast Asia, are priority regions for the US and US companies, with Vietnam a key player. We hope that the US-Vietnam relationship can be upgraded from Comprehensive to Strategic Partnership to more accurately reflect the actual spirit of the relationship and to open new doors. The US also greatly welcomes Vietnam in multilateral forums and as companies, we salute Vietnam’s efforts to further integrate into global supply chains, adopt global standards, and welcome high-level global finance and investment. For now, the US-Vietnam partnership will remain important to the Biden administration’s vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is “free, open, resilient, and inclusive”. The future is bright for both Vietnam and the US.