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Vietnam-US relations go beyond mutual benefits
Ngoc Mai 21:21, 2023/12/30
The upgraded relationship means that the bilateral cooperation is not only expanding but also deepening and becoming more substantial, not only for the two countries but also with regional and global implications.

Vice Chairwoman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham) Virginia Foote shared her views with The Hanoi Times on the significance of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for the prospects of both countries and beyond.

 AmCham Vice Chairwoman Virginia Foote during a meeting with Vietnamese Government agencies. Source: MPI

How do you assess President Joe Biden's recent visit to Vietnam, which the President himself called a "historic moment," and the formal upgrading of bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two nations?

The visit was a significant success as the US and Vietnam made unprecedented efforts to upgrade the diplomatic relationship during this trip, which marked the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Partnership. It was also the first time a US President visited Vietnam at the invitation of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

After 28 years of normalized relations and 10 years of a Comprehensive Partnership, Vietnam and the US officially elevated this relationship to Vietnam’s highest status of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.  In doing so, both sides outlined major directions for cooperation over the next decade and beyond, covering all areas of cooperation between the two countries. It means that bilateral cooperation is not only expanding but also deepening and becoming more substantive; not only for the two countries, but also has regional and global implications.

 Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong and US President Joe Biden during the latter's visit to Vietnam in September this year. Photo: Nhat Bac 

What are the implications of this upgraded partnership for bilateral interests and its broader implications for the Asia-Pacific region? In your view, what are the driving forces behind the US decision to elevate relations with Vietnam to the highest Vietnam diplomatic designation, particularly in light of the relatively recent normalization of Vietnam-US relations, which are less than three decades old?

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership brings both long-term and immediate benefits to both sides. For Vietnam, the US is a strategically important partner. Therefore,  strengthening ties with the US helps maintain a peaceful and stable environment for both countries. Vietnam's foreign relations not only advance the bilateral relationship but also establish a more balanced and robust overall foreign relations landscape with other key partners. This contributes to an open and favorable foreign landscape, which helps maintain peace and stability, and fosters widespread benefits.

The US can also benefit as Vietnam becomes an increasingly important partner in the region. Through this, the US also strengthens relations with other countries in the ASEAN and Southeast Asia in general, seizes new cooperation opportunities, and especially works to upgrade economic ties.

The upgraded relationship will have a positive impact, increasing consensus in each country and providing conditions for mobilizing and focusing on important cooperative resources and plans beneficial to both nations, contributing not only to the interests of the people of both countries but also making a decisive contribution to peace, cooperation, and sustainable development in the region and the world.

Economically, it signals an intent to strengthen trade and investment relations, which could benefit both economies. It also underscores a shared concern for regional security and stability, especially in the context of China's assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region. The upgraded relationship could encourage more people-to-people exchanges, cultural understanding, and cooperation in areas such as education and science.

Both the US and Vietnam will focus on attracting investment and enhancing cooperation in areas of potential such as semiconductor development, digital economy and technology, supply chains, consumer products, services, and infrastructure. This opens new opportunities and promotes cooperation between the two countries.

 Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and US President Joe Biden during a Vietnam-US high-level conference on investment and innovation in Hanoi on September 11. 

What areas should be strengthened and prioritized for cooperation following the upgrading of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the US?

After the upgrading of diplomatic relations, priority areas for cooperation could include economy, trade, and investment, with a focus on science, technology, and innovation as breakthrough areas. Cooperation in infrastructure development and workforce training are priority areas. Given the commitment of both countries to participate in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions, the environment, sustainable energy, and energy security will be crucial fields for cooperation and development between the two countries. To provide abundant clean energy to attract investment and growth, Vietnam will need an enormous amount of investment in energy infrastructure overall which the US can support.

Some other important areas of cooperation include education and training, addressing global issues such as participating in peacekeeping forces, coping with climate change, including the Mekong Delta region, energy security, food, water, and healthcare.

 Representatives of Vietnam Airlines and Boeing sign the $10-billion deal during Biden's visit to Vietnam

What are the important factors promoting the development of Vietnam-US relations now and in the future?

The development of Vietnam-US relations is driven by several crucial factors. Economic and trade ties play a significant role as both nations seek to strengthen trade agreements and boost bilateral economic cooperation. Strategic cooperation in security interests, alignment in global objectives, and shared concerns regarding regional stability, especially in the Asia-Pacific, are also important contributors.

Additionally, a focus on science, technology, and innovation cooperation provides significant potential for mutual advancements. Humanitarian support, societal development, and joint efforts to address global challenges like climate change and sustainable development can make a significant contribution.

In your view, what specific actions should each party take to implement the outlined cooperation directions, with a focus on meeting the mutual expectations for the Vietnam-US relationship, particularly in the pillars of technology, innovation, and investment?

In the field of technology, innovation, and investment, the US can help Vietnam advance in technology through knowledge and skills sharing with Vietnamese partners,  investment support, and joint research programs. Vietnam can provide a stable and favorable environment for innovation and investment, offering incentives to attract US investment while facilitating a skilled labor force. Both countries can establish joint initiatives, research programs, and innovation centers to encourage cooperation in advanced technologies.

Thank you for your time!

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