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American Shipper

U.S. enters market access agreement with Vietnam

U.S. enters market access agreement with Vietnam

   The Bush administration has signed a bilateral market access agreement with Vietnam, taking the Southeast Asian country another step closer to membership in the World Trade Organization.

   The agreement will be fully implemented by Vietnam once the country joins the WTO.

   The Bush administration is already touting the benefits of the agreement for U.S. manufacturers and farmers.

   “It opens a vibrant and growing market for American agricultural goods, a range of services, and manufactured products,” said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia, in a statement Wednesday. “It also opens the door for Vietnam to join the international rules-based trading system.”

   Under the agreement, Vietnam will join the Information Technology Agreement, which provides for duty-free entry for IT products, such as computers and semiconductors. Vietnam has also agreed to drop duties on aircraft.

   More than 94 percent of U.S. exports of manufactured goods will face duties of 15 percent or less upon implementation of Vietnam’s accession commitments. About three-fourths of U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam will face bound tariff rates of 15 percent or less, the USTR noted.

   Other issues addressed in the agreement include shelf-life requirements and market access for large motorcycles and technology products with encryption. Vietnam will reduce export duties on non-ferrous and steel scrap, and end WTO prohibited industrial subsidies. Vietnam will immediately stop disbursements under the key subsidy program for its textile and garment industries and end all WTO-prohibited subsidies to these industries on accession to the WTO.

   Meanwhile, Bhatia said the Bush administration will seek congressional approval for permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status for Vietnam. “We believe there is strong bipartisan support for the PNTR and will continue to work closely with both parties in Congress in the hopes of completing that process as soon as possible,” he said.

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