Monday, May 16, 2022

Washington should look to Hanoi as a strategic partner: U.S. scholar

"It is natural that Washington should look to Hanoi as a strategic partner in selling its message to ASEAN since the former enemies have crossed a vast chasm since 1975 to become comprehensive strategic partners" a well-known U.S. scholar stated ahead the U.S. visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
"Washington has also admired Vietnam's drive towards an open economy and the series of reforms that has reduced administrative bureaucracy and stimulated foreign investment" said James Borton, senior fellow Johns Hopkins University's Foreign Policy Institute and author of "Dispatches from the South China Sea: Navigating to Common Ground".
According to the Southeast Asia expert, Vietnam's economic pillars rest largely upon the country's trade normalization with the United States during the Clinton administration, entry into World Trade Organization in 2006, and acceptance into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The United States, the leading country of export, and Vietnam normalized relations in 1995 and since then Vietnam has become a magnet for U.S. investments, Borton stated. U.S. foreign direct investment into Vietnam grew from under $1 billion in 2011 to over $2.6 billion in 2019. These U.S. multinationals have invested into Vietnam over the past several decades including: Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Nike, General Electric, Adidas, Puma, and Gap, to name but a few.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh will attend the ASEAN-US Special Summit slated for May 12-13 in Washington D.C in celebration of the 45th anniversary of bilateral dialogue relations, and pay an official visit to the United States at the invitation of President Joe Biden, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang announced on April 21.
Four days later, on April 25, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong received new U.S. Ambassador Marc Knapper, underlining Vietnam's foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development, and diversification and multilateralization of foreign relations on the basis of mutual respect. For his part, Knapper stated that the United States and Vietnam hold much potential for lifting the bilateral relations to a new height, including in such new spheres as climate change and response to global pandemic COVID-19.
U.S. President Joe Biden is set to receive Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and leaders of other ASEAN countries, "signaling U.S. efforts to engage with the Asia-Pacific amid intensifying competition with China for regional influence" James Borton said. According to the U.S. expert, the coming ASEAN-US Special Summit has been much anticipated against this geopolitical backdrop. "More importantly, it presents a crucial opportunity for Washington to set the stage for defining the details of its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) announced last October" he stated, adding that Vietnam, as the former chair of ASEAN, plays a huge role in helping the United States gain a consensus.
"On the surface, Washington does not seem to have lots to offer ASEAN members or the Indo-Pacific by way of incentives for joining its initiative. But President Biden hopes that Vietnam may take a leadership role in steering conversation about how the initiative can very well help Asia's COVID-19 recovery through fostering a digital transition and digital trade which is on board with to bolster the resilience of regional supply chains" Borton said.
During the first official meeting with the Vietnamese Press on April 20, 2022 in Hanoi, U.S. Ambassador Marc Knapper expressed his impression of Vietnam's strong economic growth, and its outstanding role in region and the world, as well as the strong development of Vietnam-US relations.
One of the most important foundations for the development of bilateral relations is the efforts to resolve war consequences, Knapper said, attributing the increasingly closer ties to the dedication and efforts to build trust and goodwill of many generations of leaders, diplomats, scholars and people of the two countries in recent years.
Since 2008, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began working with the Vietnamese side to overcome the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the United States during the Vietnam War. The two sides have already completed the decontamination of Da Nang airport, and are handling the environment at Bien Hoa airport in the southern of Dong Nai province.
On April 21, 2022, the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment and USAID signed an amended bilateral cooperation deal to expand the scope of support to enhance the competitiveness of the private sector, promote innovation and startup ecology, strengthen human resources and improve capacity of Vietnamese localities.
Knapper said despite facing many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the business communities of the two countries want to revive and boost trade relations. The Biden administration has recently announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, an initiative designed to go beyond a free trade agreement, the ambassador said, adding that the United States and Vietnam have many favorable conditions to further develop bilateral relations, especially in the fields of trade and investment.
Many U.S businesses are now interested in Vietnam's transition to become a cleaner and greener economy that will achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Many U.S. companies with advanced technologies in the field of renewable energy want to invest in Vietnam, eventually helping to promote a more balanced bilateral trade, Knapper said.
According to the U.S. ambassador, the Biden administration attaches great importance to the Indo-Pacific region. In the Indo-Pacific Strategy recently announced by the United States, Vietnam is mentioned. This strategy is a roadmap showing how the United States wants to develop its relationship with Vietnam, including the goal of upgrading the bilateral relationship from comprehensive partnership to strategic partnership, so that the two sides can strengthen cooperation in many areas, from security, economy to health, climate change and energy, Knapper said.
According to the Ambassador, the Indo-Pacific Strategy embodies the ways and goals that the United States has set out to be achieved with friends and allies, not against either side. When freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region is guaranteed, goods and people can move freely by sea and air, countries can make decisions based on their interests, not because of outside pressure. With this strategy, the United States supports countries that achieve prosperity through trade and investment, in a way they freely choose, without being imposed. The United States also wants to support countries in the region, including Vietnam, to strengthen their resilience to climate change and global pandemics, stated the ambassador.

According to the U.S. Department of State, after the establishment of bilateral relations in 1995, the United States and Vietnam have become trusted partners with a friendship grounded in mutual respect. The bilateral relations have become increasingly cooperative and comprehensive, evolving into a flourishing partnership that spans political, economic, security, and people-to-people ties. The United States supports a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam that contributes to international security; engages in mutually beneficial trade relations; and respects human rights and the rule of law. 



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