The Vietnamese economy has been booming, racking up an average growth rate of 7.2 percent over the last decade. This economic growth coincides with an improving relationship with the United States. Indeed, 2010 marks 15 years of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.
The United States, said U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, has played an important role in helping to support Vietnam’s transition to a more open economy. “Not only have our two countries signed a historic bilateral trade agreement,” he said,” but this agreement has increased trade more than seven-hundred percent from just over two-billion dollars in 2001 to nearly sixteen billion dollars in 2009. The United States is now one of Vietnam’s most important export markets.”
Vietnam’s more market-oriented approach has lead to its accession as the 150th member of the World Trade Organization. There has also been progress in addressing economic and legal reform issues through the U.S.-Vietnam Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. Through this forum Vietnam is working to increase transparency, reduce trade barriers, and strengthen intellectual property rights protection. Greater legal certainty has helped attract U.S. companies’ investment in Vietnam.
The U.S. stands ready to work with Vietnam to modernize its economy, address intellectual property protection, and develop new standards for labor. But Vietnam’s continued economic growth depends on its willingness and capacity to increase transparency and expose corrupt practices at all levels, said Undersecretary Hormats.
Human rights is another issue that Vietnam must be willing to address. “Our differing views on human rights,” said Undersecretary Hormats, “also have the potential to make progress in some areas more difficult. . . .We believe deeply in the benefits of a free media, including open areas of the internet and functioning civil society can provide in meeting the myriad challenges that come with a modernizing economy.”
The U.S. looks forward to building on common goals and using the strength of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship to discuss areas where both countries may face disagreement or challenges.