Ambassador Cuong in Chicago

From 12th – 13th September 2011, Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong visited Chicago.  At the meetings with Vietnam’s ambassador to the U.S. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, many businesses and universities in Chicago, the largest city in the Midwestern United States, expressed their interest in further cooperation with Vietnam.

Addressing representatives from Chicago’s companies, universities and think tanks at a business roundtable hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), the Vietnamese ambassador briefed on recent developments in the Vietnam – US relationship and highlighted that the two sides are working closely with each other for a new level of partnership.

Vietnam is among the 12 countries to which the Obama Administration has chosen to double the US exports in 5 years as part of its plans for economic recovery and job creation. Ambassador Cuong said he strongly believed that this goal will be achieved with Vietnam. The Vietnamese ambassador also pointed out that Vietnam’ exports to the US and vise verse are mostly mutually supplemental, not competing. On investment, Ambassador Cuong expressed his hope that the US will be the No. 1 foreign investor in Vietnam, from the rank No. 7 now.

Representatives from businesses raised their questions on the investment and business environment in Vietnam, as well as the issues of inflation, red tape, clean energy development, and the exploration of natural resources. They were also the concerns that some local Vietnamese American businesses mentioned at their meeting with the Vietnamese diplomat on the previous day.

One of the question was about the reported trend of relocating investments from China to Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam.
Some Vietnamese American businesspeople proposed to establish an information sharing network for exchanges between the Vietnamese doing business in Vietnam and the US.
At several meetings, the attendants asked whether and when there would be a Vietnam trade office or consul general in Chicago, which is one of the world’s ten biggest finance centers.

Marshall Bouton, president of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs (CCGA), said that it was necessary for Vietnam to have a representative office in Chicago since there was no such office within the city’s 700 miles.  

On education, the Presidents of the University of Chicago, which ranks 8th best university in the US, and Loyala University Chicago, were interested in the Vietnamese ambassador’s proposals for cooperation, such as finding ways to have more Vietnamese students in Chicago’s universities, developing programs of cooperation between Vietnamese and Chicago universities, and American universities opening their own campus in Vietnam.

Mr. Marshall Bouton of CCGA suggested that Vietnam send economic experts and policy makers to Chicago’s think tanks or universities in scholar exchange programs.
According to the Vietnam’s embassy in the US, there are about 13,000 students from Vietnam in American universities, making Vietnam the top among ASEAN countries having students in the US.