Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk
April 14, 2010
U.S. Chamber of Commerce/U.S.-ASEAN Business Council Breakfast Honoring Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung
*As Prepared for Delivery*
“It is a pleasure and an honor this morning to welcome the distinguished delegation from Vietnam back to Washington.
“We are pleased and enthusiastic about Vietnam’s participation, led by Prime Minister Dzung, in President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit.
“Vietnam’s participation in the Summit serves to highlight Vietnam’s vision of its global role and its aspirations for the future.
“This includes building alliances to promote global security as well as developing a modern, market-oriented economy that is well integrated into the global system.
“This year marks the 15th anniversary of the United States’ re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. We’ve come a long way since 1995.
“Then our two countries shared little common ground. Today, we collaborate on a wide range of issues, from trade and investment, to education and health, to security and defense.
“Fifteen years ago there was virtually no U.S. investment in Vietnam, and bilateral trade was just $451 million.
“With normalization, things began to change. In 2000, we signed the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement.
“That opened up and normalized our trade relations, and served as a roadmap for increased bilateral cooperation on Vietnam’s fundamental economic reforms.
“With those reforms, Vietnam showed it was set on building a private sector, creating jobs for its young and growing population, and joining the global trading system.
“Ultimately, Vietnam joined the WTO in early 2007, a truly remarkable achievement.
“The gains to Vietnam from economic reform and trade liberalization are resoundingly clear on the streets of that country today.
“And our bilateral trade and investment has brought tremendous benefits to the United States as well.
“U.S. exports to Vietnam have tripled since Vietnam joined the WTO and in 2009, the United States became the largest foreign investor in Vietnam.
“Even with this impressive record of success, this relationship has considerable untapped potential.
“We have found willing and able partners in Vietnam. And we will continue to undertake a robust agenda to strengthen and deepen the relationship.
“Our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement has proven an excellent forum for discussing critical trade and investment issues.
“We are negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty.
“And we are pleased that Vietnam has joined us in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
“The TPP is a potential platform for economic integration across the Asia-Pacific region, and an opportunity to negotiate a high-standard, 21st trade agreement that will benefit all members.
“Prime Minister Dzung has shown tireless leadership in steering Vietnam’s course through some very historic changes both domestically and internationally.
“His achievements in economic management and stewardship are well known by those in the room – from Vietnam’s accession to the WTO to navigating the global economic downturn.
“He draws upon a long and distinguished public sector career that includes such critical public policy positions as Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, Vice Minister of the Interior, and First Deputy Prime Minister responsible for economic management.
“It was in this role that he distinguished himself as a leading proponent of Vietnam’s economic reform and modernization.
“As Prime Minister, he is still a vocal advocate for improving the business climate.
“He has championed an ambitious initiative to reduce red tape and bureaucratic inefficiencies within the Vietnamese government. He has worked to ensure that Vietnam cultivates a vibrant and business friendly economy.
“Today, we hope to hear the Prime Minister’s views and thoughts on how we all can further expand on and strengthen our economic and commercial ties.
“We wish to move together toward the shared goal of build on the successes of the past in order to move together into a new chapter in our relationship.
“Please join me in welcoming Prime Minister Dzung.”