U.S. – Vietnam Trade Issues

For about two decades, trade relationship between united states of America and Vietnam republic  has been dormant  especially during military disagreements of 1960s and 1970s. on 2nd may 1975, when us ally were defeated by north Vietnam  south Vietnam  president Gerald r ford prolonged president Richard m Nixon’s  1964 trade  ban  on   north Vietnam  to  mask the reunited  nations. Under Richard ban, bilateral trade plus all other financial transactions were disallowed. Trade between USA and Vietnam started at the time of Clinton regime enabled by the effort of Reagan and h. w. bush regimes to work out a sensitive problem in the USA to get back the remnants of United States military individuals who were missing in action (hostages) during the war of the Vietnam. President Clinton ended US trade ban to Vietnam on 3rd of February 1964. On 13th July 2000 USA embassy was set on Vietnam and the first ambassador was appointed since Vietnam War ended in 1975. In 1978 USA and Vietnam signed a trade agreement (bilateral trade agreement) which went onto force on 10th December 2001. Trade between the two nations improved further the time USA assured Vietnam permanent  normal trade relationships status  on  2006 29th December.

After signing bilateral trade agreement the United States government has donated about 4-5 million us dollars to facilitate Vietnam economy . The development of bilateral trade has encountered several issues and challenges. Vietnam has shown a desire to promote strong trade relationship by asking to be allowed in the US general system of preference program, taking part in dialogue of bilateral investment treaty with USA and showing interest in the trans pacific strategic economic partnership agreement a trade group in which USA was also interested. The development of trade also developed trade tension. Increase of clothing export by Vietnam to USA leading to a contentious mentoring program.

The enlargement of exportation of catfish also created friction between the two traders. Other trade issues had indirect effect on bilateral trade, for example complain of bad working condition in industries in Vietnam, Vietnam nomination as non-market economy accusation of insufficient intellectual property right security in Vietnam and their exchange rate policy. In 2008 may Vietnam applied to be joined to  united state generalized preference program as a beneficially developing nation , the office of united trade representative  replied that it was to start formal  review  of Vietnams qualification for general system of preference  benefits  and would allow public view on the request  until 4th august 2008. Until that time united states trade representative has not announced anything concerning Vietnam   eligibility for united states generalized system of preference program   benefits  Textile export to united states by Vietnam were some of the greatest reasons of United states of America to accept normal trade relationship in 2001 December. The quantity of Vietnam clothing import to united states has been increasing every year this made united states  to conclude a textile bilateral agreement that enhanced fair competition and prohibited the growth of clothing export by Vietnamese to united state   Catfish trade has been a major source of trade tension between the two nations.

Vietnam is main exporter of fish fillets. Over a decade USA has taken several measures that were meant to have a direct effect on importation of Vietnamese catfish .including this of the law that restrict referring of basa and tra as catfish and enforcing of antidumping duties on particular fish fillets from Vietnam. However, the export of catfish raised still the continued friction on catfish trade was recently highlighted by two incidence. one, the passage of 2008 farm bill (P.L 110-246) by the 110th congress on 22nd of May 2008 shifting of controlling over site of importation of catfish or any other type of farm produced fish to the department of agriculture under provision of federal meat inspection meat act (21 u.s.c 601 w) requiring secretary of agriculture develop sufficient regulatory procedure for inspecting imported catfish. There have been reports drafting USDA acts redefining Basa and tra as catfish.

Second, the ITCs event on 15th of June 2009 to maintain antidumping duties on certain fish fillets importation from Vietnam   For more than 2 decades there has been no economic relationship, United States and Vietnam resumed their trade relationship in the 1990s after which Vietnam has risen to become an important trading partner for USA. Vietnam trade contributed to united state prolongs its initially controlled and later permanent normal trade relationship to Vietnam. There has been issues with trade for particular program me for example the first rise of clothing import lead to creation of import monitoring program me . the congress may have an important role on these trade issues. United states generalized system preferences program was supposed  to end on 2009 31st December and incase congress may take up united states generalized system preference it should also consider Vietnam pending request . the congress  should also take on consideration on fish and clothing imports from Vietnam .


1 Labour Relations,” Voice of Vietnam News, March 18, 2009; Minh Nam, “Flouting of Labor Laws Rife in HCMC:  Report,” Thanhnien News, December 2, 2008; and Minh Nam, “HCMC Officials call to Strengthen Unions, Tighten  Labor Laws,” Thanhnien News, February 12, 2009.

2  Peter Jennings, Re: Human Rights Watch Report ‘Not Yet a Workers’ Paradise’ of May 4, 2009, Australian Peoplefor Health, Education and Development Abroad, Inc., Sydney, June 17, 2009.

3  Other countries considered non-market economies by the United States include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China,Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Prof. Angela


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