E. Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State, "The U.S. and Vietnam," Remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce, Hanoi, Vietnam, July 26, 2001


(As prepared for delivery.)

Good afternoon. Thank you for the invitation to be with you today. I
would like to speak to you first about the overall relationship between
the U.S. and Vietnam, particularly on the economic dimension, and talk
about how that relationship fits into the framework of international
trade and economic relations. Then, I'd like to say a few words about
how the State Department, and the American Embassy here in Hanoi, is
working on behalf of U.S. companies operating here in Vietnam.

The long-term objective of our Vietnam policy is a secure, stable,
prosperous, and open Vietnam. We hope to see a Vietnam integrated into
regional and global institutions, cooperating and competing within the
rules of those institutions. This Vietnam will have a dynamic and open
economy, offering its citizens an improving standard of living and
opening its markets to imports and attracting investment. Vietnam has
the potential to contribute to regional stability and security, and to
be an engine for economic growth in this region.

You, the members of this Chamber, are playing an important part in this
exciting chapter of history. Vietnam and the United States are working
together on many fronts to build a healthy, mutually beneficial
relationship: A relationship based on cooperation in areas of shared
interest and designed to strengthen the partnership that began only
recently, after years of mistrust and antagonism.

The economic relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam is a vital
component of that partnership. The United States regards Vietnam as an
important trading partner. And with a private sector commitment of more
than $120 million (1999 figure), the U.S. ranks as Vietnam's seventh-
largest foreign investor. This is an important consideration. As
Secretary Powell has often said, money is a coward: It will not go
where there is danger and instability. In the international competition
for scarce capital and technology, countries that focus on improving
the environment for investment, on battling corruption, and raising
productivity through better education and health for their citizens
will attract private investment and prosper.

As you know, President Bush has declared implementation of the
bilateral trade agreement we signed just a year ago to be one of the
top priorities on his international trade legislative agenda. Once that
agreement has been approved by Congress, Vietnam will be eligible for
Normal Trade Relations, or "NTR", status on a year-to-year basis. This
will pave the way for significantly greater two-way trade flow between
our countries which, according to the latest figures I've seen, stands
at about $1.2 billion a year.

We were pleased last week to see some progress as the Senate Finance
Committee reported out the resolution approving the BTA and we hope it
will soon be submitted for a vote by the full Senate. Meanwhile, we
hope the House of Representatives will soon be able to consider the
legislation -- and I am pleased to report that the House Ways and Means
Committee intends to mark up the resolution approving the BTA on July
24. That's an important step. While more work remains to be done -- and
I won't try to predict how or even when Congress will finally decide --
we are optimistic we will eventually have Congressional approval.

After suffering some setbacks in the mid-1990's, Vietnam's economy is
once again showing encouraging signs. Trade between the U.S. and
Vietnam has been increasing steadily since 1997 and, according to 2000
trade figures, Vietnam exported $827 million in goods to the U.S.,
while importing $368 million. Two-way trade so far this year is up
eleven percent.

Clearly, we'd like to see the value of U.S. exports to Vietnam
increase. But the importance of trade goes far beyond the figures on
one side of a balance sheet. As President Bush has said, "Open trade
fuels the engines of economic growth that create new jobs and new
income. It applies the power of markets to the needs of the poor. It
spurs the process of economic and legal reform. It helps dismantle
protectionist bureaucracies that stifle incentive and invite
corruption. And open trade reinforces the habits of liberty that
sustain democracy over the long term."

That's it in a nutshell. Yes, increased trade means more jobs and
better jobs, greater prosperity and higher standards of living, both
for the U.S. and for our trading partners.

But accelerating trade and strengthening democratic institutions go
together; open markets and good government are very closely linked. The
prosperity and the economic integration that open trade brings gives
citizens a greater voice in their own destiny.

That's why, back in Washington, the Administration is working closely
with Congress to achieve Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA -- by which
Congress agrees in advance to make a simple yes-or-no decision on trade
legislation, rather than subjecting it to lengthy debate and amendment.
TPA is vital for continued progress in advancing the free trade agenda
internationally.

An important part of that international agenda is the launching of a
new global trade round, which we hope to do in November at the World
Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Doha.

While the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement is considered
"privileged" legislation which does not require TPA for expedited
Congressional consideration, launching a new WTO round is critical for
emerging Asian economies -- and that gives Vietnam a direct interest in
seeing it happen. Because Vietnam -- once it has acceded to the WTO --
stands to benefit, along with other developing and developed countries
alike, from the reduction in trade barriers worldwide that will result
from a new round. We should all be encouraged, therefore, by the strong
endorsement for a new WTO round given by the leaders of the G-8
countries at their summit meeting Genoa, Italy last weekend.

Let me now turn to an important element of the State Department's work
overseas: Support for American companies doing business outside the
borders of the U.S.

We encourage governments to take steps to strengthen the rule of law
and increase transparency. Our embassies work to see that American
companies abroad have level playing fields and do not suffer from rules
and practices designed to keep them out of the market. We do not seek
special treatment for American companies -- our interest is simply in
seeing that U.S. firms are able to compete under the same rules and
assumptions as companies from other countries. We know there are some
large initiatives under way; for example, The Boeing Company's
negotiations to sell aircraft to Vietnam Airlines and the separate
efforts of General Electric Aircraft Engines and Pratt & Whitney to
supply engines for those aircraft. Of course, we hope that the
Vietnamese government considers making a decision to accept an
"American package" -- but the important concern is that the decision be
made on the basis of merit with all competing companies having an equal
chance to make their cases.

Along with this commercial advocacy, of course, we hold U.S. companies
overseas to a high standard of corporate practice. Each year the State
Department publicly recognizes exceptional performance through our
Awards for Corporate Excellence which spotlight good corporate
citizenship, innovation, and exemplary business practices overseas.
Criteria for nomination include ethical business practices, exemplary
employment practices and a healthy workplace environment, concern for
the environment, contributions to the local society, and, of course,
rejection of bribery and corruption.

During the past couple of years our Embassy here in Hanoi has proudly
nominated U.S. companies for their outstanding corporate citizenship,
innovation, and exemplary business practices. Cargill Vietnam was
nominated for this award, notably for its "Cargill Cares" charitable
program, its safety practices, and quality control standards. More
recently, Ford Vietnam has been nominated for developing safety and
environmental standards, promoting education and e-commerce training
for its employees, building a "safety village" in Hanoi to teach safety
to children, and supporting the U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership.
And our Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City has nominated the solar
electric light company Selco-Vietnam for its responsible environmental
practices and mission to improve life in the rural communities of
Vietnam.

These are just three examples of the good work being done by American
firms here; we know there are other examples that deserve recognition.
But the message behind all this is, good corporate citizenship is not a
new idea -- enlightened companies have long worked to maintain their
good reputations among customers, investors, and workers. It's good
business.

In these brief remarks, I have tried to give you some sense of the
importance with which we in Washington view our relationship with
Vietnam and how the economic relationship is an integral part of that.
I have also attempted to sketch for you the importance of Vietnam, both
here in the Southeast Asian neighborhood and in the global picture. And
I wanted to acknowledge the fine work that Embassy Hanoi is doing to
represent U.S. interests here in Vietnam.

In closing, let me congratulate you on the important work you are doing
and wish you all the best for the future. Thank you for your attention.

[end]

************************************************************
See http://www.state.gov for Senior State Department
Official's statements and testimonies
************************************************************