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Vietnam, US striving to boost balanced trade: forum

There remains much potential for comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and the US, and both are working hard to promote balanced bilateral trade, heard a forum held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 6.

At the function, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said bilateral trade has grown strongly for many years and continually set new records.

It was recorded at only 220 million USD in 1994 when the US officially lifted economic sanctions on Vietnam, and reached 1.4 billion USD in 2001 – the year before the bilateral trade agreement took effect. The figure hit 58.8 billion USD in 2018 and 35.4 billion USD in the first half of 2019.

The recent strong shift of global supply chains to Vietnam has helped it jump from the 12th place to the 9th position among the top exporters to the US. It has also become the 27th biggest importer and the 16 largest trade partner of the US, he noted.

Complementarity is an important character in the two countries’ economic and trade ties, Hai said, elaborating that the US has big demand for typical agricultural products and strong commodities of Vietnam like apparel, footwear and electronic devices. In return, Vietnam has demand for hi-tech devices, aviation equipment, telecom products and raw farm produce which the US boasts abundant supplies.

Additionally, as the Southeast Asian nation posts an average GDP growth rate of nearly 7 percent each year, a population of almost 100 million and rising per capita income, it is forecast to be a potential market for US firms in numerous fields such as health care, education, telecom, retail, finance-banking and energy.

These are favourable conditions for the two business circles to continue bolstering trade, the deputy minister said.

However, the growth of Vietnamese exports to the US has also posed many Vietnamese goods to risks of being put under stricter control by the North American nation, according to Director of the ministry’s Trade Remedies Authority Le Trieu Dung.

In the first eight months of 2019, there were seven trade investigations relating to the origin of Vietnamese goods, including aluminum, steel, household appliances, electronic products, aquatic products, which were charged with being made from materials hailed from the countries the US is taking trade remedies against like China, the Republic of Korea and India.

This has negatively affected Vietnam’s economic integration efforts, export activities, as well as the prestige of Vietnamese goods, Dung said.

At the forum, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham Vietnam) in HCM City Mary Tarnowka said her country’s policy is to diversify supply sources for its market and improve market access conditions for American goods in a way that is to avoid too big trade deficit with some economies. Therefore, there remains much room for Vietnamese businesses to expand their market.

However, to sustainably consolidate bilateral trade links, Vietnamese firms should improve their supply, manufacturing and processing capacity. The Vietnamese Government also needs to create conditions for US companies to boost export, investment and business activities in the country so as to ensure trade balance, she said.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, using technology and materials from the US to manufacture products and then exporting them to this country is a swift, firm and effective move in building closed-loop supply chains and generating revenue for both economies.