Vietnam-U.S trade has yet to match potential

HCMC – Despite an increasingly huge number of investment projects from the U.S., the current picture has yet to fully mirror the true potential for bilateral trade ties between Vietnam and the world’s largest economy, heard at a conference titled “Meet the USA 2017” in HCMC on June 7.

Tran Dinh Thien, director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics, cited statistics of Vietnam’s General Department of Vietnam Customs as saying that bilateral trade rocketed from a mere US$1 billion in 2000 to US$47.15 billion in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 26.6%.

The U.S. has now become Vietnam’s biggest export market. However, he said, Vietnam has yet to make the most of the position to achieve explosive growth like other countries doing business with the U.S.

So far, 119 countries and territories have invested in Vietnam, with the U.S. currently being the ninth largest investor, with roughly US$12 billion pledged, according to Nguyen Noi, deputy director of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Noi shared Thien’s view, saying the U.S. has huge financial potential, with a host of investment funds, banks, and modern technologies, and management expertise.

If American firms bring into play these competitive edges in Vietnam, they will reap huge profits, he said.

Vo Tan Thanh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hoped the U.S. will become one of the three biggest investors in Vietnam in the next five or ten years, as the two countries hold enormous potential for cooperation in the fields of energy, oil and gas, finance and banking, among others.

“The U.S. would consider recognizing Vietnam as a market economy next year, marking a significant milestone in trade and investment relations between the two nations,” he emphasized.

In regard to institutional reform, Cao Duc Phat, deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic  Commission, said Vietnam will continue its innovation push to become a modern and integrated market economy.

Ha Kim Ngoc, deputy foreign minister, says bolstering bilateral relations in areas of economy, trade and investment is high on Vietnam’s priority agenda following the recent visit to the U.S. by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Secretary of the HCMC Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said Vietnam’s social and political stability helps create favorable conditions for foreign investors. Vietnam looks forward to teaming up with the U.S. to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution like the development of smart cities in Hanoi, Danang, and HCMC.