US Ambassador Optimistic About WTO Deal With Vietnam

The US Ambassador to Vietnam has expressed his optimism about the progress expected during the upcoming round of Vietnam-US negotiations on Vietnam’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.
Speaking to the media in Hanoi Thursday, Michael Marine stressed both Vietnam and the United States had narrowed the gap during their previous meeting in January.

Since then negotiators on both sides had maintained close relations and exchanged views on the phone or via email to prepare for the upcoming bilateral negotiation scheduled for March 27, he added.

The ambassador said he would try to lobby the US congress to grant permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Vietnam due to its significant development achievements in recent times.

Vietnam had made great strides in meeting the requirements for socio-economic development and improving people’s living condition, he said, adding millions of Vietnamese people have chances to practice religious activities.

According to him, the US congress will consider granting PNTR to Vietnam based on the results of bilateral and multilateral negotiations on Vietnam’s WTO membership bid scheduled for late March.

The granting depends a lot on the early conclusion of bilateral negotiations with the vote expected to take place before the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit scheduled in Hanoi this November.

“I think the six next weeks will be very important to both sides,” he said.

Achievements, prospects

The ambassador considered the liberation of ability and talent of the Vietnamese people as the most important achievement of the country’s Renovation policy, (Doi Moi), begun in 1986.

He said after his first visit to Vietnam in 1988 he returned to the country eight times the two following years but real changes in its economic activities were limited.

“But when taking the post of ambassador 18 months ago, or 15 years since my last visit to Vietnam, everything has been different,” he said, adding most people were ready to seize opportunities to show their ability and hone their skills.

“So I think your future is very bright,” he said.

In his opinion, bilateral trade between Vietnam and the US of US$7-8 billion a year could only be reached with liberalizing trade.

He stressed both countries would evolve greatly over the next three years and two-way trade and investment would increase considerably.

As Vietnam becomes stronger, it would play a more important role in APEC, ASEAN, WTO and ARF, the ambassador said, adding the Vietnamese government would talk more regularly with US plan makers and legislators over regional and international issues.

Advantages, disadvantages

Marine said Vietnam had recently become more attractive to foreign investors, particularly after its National Assembly approved several laws relating to the progress of joining the WTO.

The country’s better legal framework has reassured foreign investors, he stressed.

Moreover, many local authorities have made efforts to offer more incentives to investors, simplify procedures for issuing investment licenses or allocating land, and improve the investment environment.

However, he remarked, what still concerns many foreign investors is the weakness of Vietnam’s judicial system.

Other obstacles include undeveloped infrastructure, substandard seaports, traffic congestion and costly post and telecom charges.

Source: Thanh Nien News 

Reported by Xuan Danh – Translated by Thu Thuy