U.S.-Vietnam bilateral trade increases, problems persist
United States-Vietnam trade has double annually for three years since the signing of an agreement between the countries in December 2001.
“The Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) has become a key catalyst for change in Vietnam, along with parallel reform programs undertaken by the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund),” said Matthew P. Daley, deputy assistant to the Secretary of State, in testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday. “While Vietnam is lagging behind in some of its BTA commitments and enforcement remains weak, Vietnam has made progress in opening its markets to many U.S. products.”
After more than doubling the bilateral trade in 2002, Vietnam’s exports to the United States increased another 121 percent in the first 10 months of 2003 to nearly $4 billion, Daley said. U.S. exports to Vietnam increased 151 percent to $1.2 billion in 2003, including plane sales to the country’s national airline. For 2003, two-way trade between the countries was about $6 billion.
“While we expect trade to continue to increase, the growth rate is likely to slow, partly as a result of the textile quotas put into place in 2003 by the bilateral textile agreement,” Daley told the Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The signing of a U.S.-Vietnam civil aviation agreement, however, is expected to increase economic opportunities between the countries.
Last year also marked an increase in antidumping suits against certain Vietnamese shippers. Last summer, the International Trade Commission determined that Vietnamese catfish exports unfairly injured U.S. producers. The Commerce Department set duty levels for Vietnamese catfish imports between 36 and 64 percent. On Jan. 21, the Commerce Department said it would conduct an antidumping investigation on shrimp imports from Vietnam and other countries.
Daley said the Bush administration remains “supportive” of Vietnam’s efforts to adopt World Trade Organization provisions.
“Vietnam’s implementation of a rules-based trading system based on WTO principles of transparency and its continued pursuit of structural economic reforms should accelerate the development of the private sector, enhance the rule of law, and improve the atmosphere for progress in democracy and human rights,” Daley said.
“Our bilateral relationship is positioned to grow in positive directions,” he added. “The issues that we address together show that both of our countries are now concentrating on our future rather than simply looking into the past.”