Washington, DC - U.S. and Vietnamese officials met this week in Hanoi to review implementation of the United States-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA).
The productive meetings were consistent with Vietnam’s strong record in implementing its commitments under the Agreement. This record has supported the spectacular growth in U.S.-Vietnamese trade in the five years since the BTA was implemented. It also will ease the way for Vietnam to fully implement the commitments it has made as part of its WTO accession agreement, which builds on the market access achieved under the BTA.
During the meeting, which was led by Barbara Weisel, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia, Pacific and Pharmaceutical Policy, and Luong Van Tu, Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Trade, the two sides discussed in detail the status of implementation of each of Vietnam’s BTA commitments. Among the issues discussed were protection of intellectual property, investment, telecommunications and other services, trade facilitation, and transparency.
During the Joint Committee meeting, the United States reviewed with Vietnam the steps Vietnam has undertake taken to implement the BTA, including the wide range of legislation implemented in the last year to meet Vietnam's BTA commitments. The United States provided technical assistance to support the revision or drafting of over 70 laws to help Vietnam create a legal framework to meet its BTA commitments and to pave the way for Vietnam's WTO accession. These include:
- A new intellectual property law due to enter into force on July 1, that provides a comprehensive framework for strengthening Vietnam’s intellectual property regime.
- A draft law covering standards, technical regulations, and SPS measures currently being considered by the National Assembly.
- Regulations to implement rights of U.S. companies to engage in trading activities and distribution in Vietnam are currently being drafted.
- Laws and regulations implementing Vietnam’s obligations on telecommunications, audio-visual, and legal services.
- New laws covering investment that level the playing field for U.S. and Vietnamese firms that will come into force on July 1.
The United States welcomed the actions the Vietnamese Government has taken to meet its BTA obligations and agreed to continue to consult closely with Vietnam at it works to fulfill the remaining commitments under the terms of the BTA. The BTA continues to support Vietnam’s impressive record of reform and the rapid growth in U.S-Vietnam trade. Two-way trade grew to nearly $8 billion in 2005, a 400-percent increase since 2001, and Vietnam was among the fastest growing U.S. market in Asia for U.S. goods over the past four years since the BTA was signed. We expect this growth to accelerate further as a result of the additional market access commitments Vietnam had made as part of the WTO accession process. To implement its WTO commitments, Vietnam will reduce tariffs to 15 percent or less on over 90 percent of U.S. exports of manufactured goods and two - thirds of U.S. agricultural exports. In services, Vietnam will provide greater access in key service sectors to U.S. providers including financial services, telecommunications, distribution and energy services. U.S. businesses will also benefit from the greater certainty and protection provided by the full range of WTO rules that Vietnam will implement as part of its accession.
The United States and Vietnam embarked on a roadmap toward full bilateral relations nearly 11 years ago, normalizing political relations in 1995 and signing a Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2001. The United States-Vietnam BTA entered into force in 2001 and obligated Vietnam to liberalize its market for U.S. goods and services and transition to a market-based trading system consistent with international norms. On May 31, 2006, the United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral market access agreement as part of Vietnam’s WTO accession commitments. Once Vietnam joins the WTO, it will be governed by international trading rules and will provide greater access to its growing market of over 82 million people to all WTO members. USTR will be working with the U.S. Congress to terminate application of Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions and pave the way for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Vietnam, ensuring that American companies and consumers are able to secure the benefits of Vietnam's membership in the WTO. PNTR is necessary for the United States to obtain the benefits of Vietnam’s WTO accession commitments. Legislation to provide PNTR status to Vietnam was introduced to the U.S. Congress on June 13, 2006.