PM grants interview to Bloomberg
  • | VGP | May 30, 2017 09:39 AM
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has talked to Bloomberg on Vietnam-US ties before his departure to the US to meet with President Donald Trump on May 31.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc: Photo: Luong Thai Linh/Bloomberg

What is the purpose of your visit to the US and your message to Trump Administration?

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc: At the invitation of President Donald Trump, I will lead a high-level Government delegation to pay an official visit to the US where I will hold talks with the US President on May 31 at the White House. This is the first visit of a senior Vietnamese leader to the US since President Donald Trump took office. In pursuance of the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multi-lateralization of external affairs with a focus on accelerating and deepening relations with major partners and countries as well as the orientation of proactive international integration, the visit aims to strengthen the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership effectively and really both in depth and width in all bilateral, regional and international aspects.

I would like to convey to President Donald Trump and American people the message that the Vietnamese leaders and people consistently attach importance to the relationship with the US, stand ready to cooperate with President Trump’s Administration to promote the achievements of 20-year cooperation between the two countries and boost the comprehensive partnership in a sound, stable and long-term manner based on respecting the UN Charter, international law, independence, sovereignty, political system and development path of each country, equal cooperation for mutual benefits, contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability and development in Asia-Pacific.

Does Vietnam plan to discuss on a free trade agreement with the US?

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc: Vietnam signed the bilateral trade agreement with the US in 2001 and both sides have negotiated and signed a number of economic agreements. These agreements have took effect, which have helped vigorously accelerate economic ties between Vietnam and the US and the economic reform and international integration process of Vietnam as well as assist Vietnam to actively participate in maintaining peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world. After the US withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the two sides have restarted the cooperation mechanism under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to deal with economic and trade issues of common concerns. Now, the two sides’ competent agencies are actively engaging in talks to improve cooperation mechanisms related to trade towards more effectiveness, convenience and mutual benefits.

With its policy of active international integration and deep participation in international economic linkages, Vietnam has become an important link of the economic linkage network of 59 economic partners, including 15 member of the G20. From this perspective, Vietnam stands ready to discuss with other countries, including the US on new forms of cooperation to push economic and trade linkages based on equality and mutual benefits. At the same time, Vietnam will continue efforts to improve domestic business and investment environment in favor of foreign businesses and investors, including American ones to do business in Vietnam.

Could you clarify the importance of economic relations between Vietnam and the US?

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc: Since normalization of the diplomatic ties in 1995, economic cooperation is a prominent point, a pillar and an impetus of the bilateral ties. The US is now one of the top trade partners of Vietnam. As the two economies are supplementary and they are not direct competitors, the two-way trade has kept rising continuously and quickly, from US$500 million in 1995 to nearly US$50 billion in 2016, bringing practical benefits to both Vietnam and the US. Vietnam imports many goods and services from the US while exporting many goods that are no longer produced by the US. The US is the 8th biggest foreign investor in Vietnam with 815 projects worth over US$10 billion.

However, I believe that the bilateral ties are not commensurate with potential and demands of the two countries; there are many opportunities for cooperation between the two countries’ businesses, especially in such fields like energy-petroleum, infrastructure, high-tech, finance-banking, education and training, tourism among others. In the face of the 4th industrial revolution, both sides can also boost cooperation in science-technology and innovations.

I affirm the two sides possess vast potential in economic cooperation to enhance growth and job creation in both countries. This is also one of the key topics that I will discuss with President Donald Trump. During the visit, businesses of the two countries will ink many contracts worth billions of US dollars.

What do you think about the viewpoint saying that the US and other countries are pursuing protectionism?

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc: I believe that free trade, international integration and economic linkage are still the prevailing trend in Asia-Pacific and the world. One of the example is that many linkage initiatives have been taken shaped and deployed at regional, inter-regional and global scales. Maybe at present, the US does not give priority to pursuing free trade agreements like TPP. We respect the US’s decision but I think the US will still boost economic freedom and linkage through bilateral agreements.

Vietnam is one of the economies that are highly open to the world (the country’s import-export value accounts for more than 170% GDP), having economic and trade relations with 230 countries and territories. It has signed or are negotiating 16 bilateral and multi-lateral free trade agreements involving 59 partners, including the world’s biggest economies. In multi-lateral aspect, Vietnam has actively and proactively participated in top economic and trade cooperation mechanisms, prominently the ASEAN Community and is now the host of APEC Year 2017. We are consistently pursuing international integration and accelerating comprehensive reform, improving competitiveness for fast and sustainable development.

In the time to come, countries need to continue accelerating economic cooperation and linkages to exploit the benefits of globalization and free trade and investment to the maximum while reducing negative impacts from this process. For the US, now matter where the regional and international economic linkage process goes, Vietnam still expects to enhance cooperation and deepen trade and economic ties with the US on the basis of mutual respect, equality and satisfaction of the aspiration and interests of the two countries’ businesses and people.

I expect that the US would further promote cooperative activities, especially in economic and trade domains to contribute to the common prosperity in the region and the world.

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