Remarks by Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong at the 20th Anniversary of Trade Relations between Vietnam and the US

Remarks by Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong
at the Reception commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Trade Relations
between Vietnam and the United States, February 10, 2014
Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I begin my remarks, I want to share with you the letter that I just received from President Bill Clinton for this particular occasion. As you can see on the screen (show the letter on the screen), President Clinton expresses his thanks to all of us “for celebrating and supporting twenty years of normalized trade relations between our two countries” and “especially and always Secretary Kerry and Senator McCain, whose service and vision were critical to our initial breakthrough and all the progress that has occurred since”. Thank you, Mr. President, for your thoughtfulness.
It is wonderful to have all of you here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of trade relations between our two countries. We are honored to have the presence here tonight of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain (Arizona), Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa), Senator Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona), Congressman Kurt Schrader (Oregon), Assistant Secretary Daniel Russel, among others. There are so many friends of the US-Vietnam relationship here tonight, so please forgive me for not being able to name all of you.
Also present here are my very close colleague, Ambassador of Vietnam to the United Nations Le Hoai Trung and his lovely wife, my colleague ambassadors and representatives from ASEAN and TPP countries. So tonight is not only a special occasion for US-Vietnam relationship, but also an important event to highlight US-ASEAN and US-TPP partnerships.
I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the Department of State, the efficient and friendly staffers from the office of Senator McCain and Congressman Faleomavaega and other supporters from the US business community (G.E, ACE Life, Nike, UPS and MetLife) for helping to make this event possible.
Tonight we recall that, on February 3, 1994, President Clinton’s announcement to lift the Vietnam trade embargo marked a milestone in our countries’ common history, and as the President of Vietnam Truong Tan Sang puts it in his recent letter to President Clinton on this special occasion, that “decision has put an end to the difficult chapter in the history of the two countries, unfolding a new era of bilateral ties”. 
Over the past 20 years, our peoples have benefited tremendously from that turning point, which has contributed to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. For myself, having grown up during the Vietnam war (which we call “the US war”), witnessed the post-war reconciliation, and participated in the development of bilateral relations to the Comprehensive Partnership formed by President Obama and President Sang last July - believe me, our journey together seems nothing short of miraculous.
It has taken courage and conviction, wisdom and vision from both sides.
President Clinton’s remarkable leadership would not have been possible without the support of many advocates of revived ties between our countries. And tonight, I want to extend our sincerest thanks and appreciation to all these people. I am particularly pleased to see so many friends here, too. 
 Among these champions of reconciliation, I would particularly want to mention two famous Vietnam veterans, both named John, one Democrat, one Republican, then Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain. Mr. Secretary and Mr. Senator, your common bonds and friendship over the last 3 decades in promoting relations with Vietnam vividly exemplify the constant bi-partisan support for our multi-faceted bilateral relationship. Thank you very very much again and we all look forward to your remarks.
In a moment we will have a chance to hear from another leading champion of the US-Vietnam relations, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Tonight, we take pride that trade is benefitting both peoples. The two-way trade amounts to nearly $30 billion - more than 130 times the total in 1994. Vietnam is now America’s 29th largest trading partner, and our trade increases by 20 percent a year. 
Every year, some 1,800 containers loaded with U.S. - grown apples, pears, oranges, grapes and cherries travel to Vietnam, along with pork, beef, poultry, soy and dairy products. America’s manufacturing products are also ubiquitous in Vietnam. In 2013 alone, Vietnamese companies signed contacts totaling $2.6 billion to buy American-made jet engines and wind turbines, helping to support tens of thousands of US manufacturing jobs. 
With direct investment totaling $11 billion, the United States ranks the 7th  largest foreign investor in Vietnam. American companies are gaining new customers and contracts in a 90-million-people market, while contributing to Vietnam’s development. Also worthy of note that last year, for the very first time, a private company from Vietnam has committed to investing in manufacturing in the State of Arkansas. 
These numbers will definitely continue to grow. With the successful negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Vietnam, the United States and other Asian Pacific Nations will further grow our economies, create more jobs.
  Having overcome a difficult past, nothing should stop us from building a better future.  
Thank you all for coming here tonight to celebrate our common achievements and thank you for everything you have been doing to deepen the partnership between our two countries.