The US Senate Committee on Finance voted August 1 to adopt a bill towards granting Viet Nam Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) that will soon move before the all of congress.
With 18 votes for and only two abstentions, Senator Max Baucus, who sponsored the bill, welcomed the Committee’s decision, which he described as an important step in what he hopes will lead to the US Senate’s approval of the bill.
"We should be leaping at the chance to fully engage the U.S. with Viet Nam’s emerging economy and its 83 million new customers. We should work hard and work fast to approve Viet Nam PNTR as soon as possible," Democrat Baucus said on July 31.
"The Finance Committee took an important step today, and now Congress needs to bring this 15-year process of reconciliation with Viet Nam to its long-sought conclusion," he continued. "I’ll keep pushing to move this legislation forward."
The US should take this opportunity to penetrate into the strongly-developing Vietnamese economy, Baucus said, stressing that the US should grant Viet Nam PNTR status prior to Viet Nam’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Earlier on July 27, the Committee held discussions on the bill without any amendments or supplements added to the bill. The bill has been widely supported by the Committee, the US Congress, as well as American exporters and non-governmental organizations.
On May 31, Viet Nam and the US signed their bilateral WTO accession agreement, which paves the way for Viet Nam to join the WTO. Viet Nam hopes to become a WTO member before Ha Noi hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November, which President Bush and other APEC leaders are planning to attend. Baucus says the U.S. should grant Viet Nam PNTR status before the event.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman Le Dzung answered questions from reporters on August 1 about Viet Nam’s reaction to the US Senate Committee on Finance’s voting for the bill.
He said that Viet Nam welcomed the committee’s action towards PNTR and that this is a very important contribution to the developing process of Viet Nam – US relations and will benefit both sides.
PNTR is a pledge of non-discrimination. A grant of PNTR is a promise not to treat imports from one country more harshly than those from another country. Viet Nam is currently ineligible for PNTR because it is subject to the Jackson-Vanik provisions of U.S. law, which withhold PNTR from certain Communist or formerly Communist countries. The US typically terminates a country’s Jackson-Vanik status and grants that country PNTR as part of its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Baucus-Smith legislation takes this action with regard to Viet Nam.
Excerpted from Senator Max Baucus’ statement on July 31, 2006