US-Vietnam's top trade partner

The US has become Viet Nam's leading trade and investment partner, which has been reflected through impressive trade values between the two countries over recent years. Bilateral trade has expanded from zero since the day Viet Nam and the US normalised their diplomatic ties 20 years ago to US$36.3 billion in 2014. The figure is expected to hit $40 billion in 2015.

Tra fish is one of main products exported to the US. In 2015, the total value of tra fish exports reached $1.6 billion, which was 10 per cent lower than the value in 2014. – Photo VNA

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, among the free trade agreements Viet Nam has engaged in, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is expected to afford favourable conditions for Vietnamese exports.

Nguyen Duy Khien, head of the American Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), said Viet Nam shipped $30.6 billion worth of goods to the US in 2014, up 24 per cent against the previous year.

According to the MoIT, Viet Nam began to access the US market in 1995. Viet Nam's export turnover to the country reached $800 million in 2000 – the year the Viet Nam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement was signed.

The US has become Viet Nam's largest importer, purchasing garments, electronic products, footwear, rice and fish from the Southeast Asian nation.

In the sphere of investment, the US ranked seventh among the countries and territories investing in Viet Nam with a total direct investment of $10.7 billion by June this year.

Vu DucGiang, President of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, said Viet Nam was the world's fifth largest garment-textile exporter, and the US remained the country's top market in this field.

However, the garment-textile and footwear sectors are forecast to face difficulties as a result of Viet Nam's TPP membership as the US has initiated the "yarn forward" rule of origin.

In order to benefit from tax breaks, Vietnamese companies must use materials imported from other TPP members, Giang said, noting this would be a real challenge for Vietnamese businesses when up to 70 percent of materials they are currently using are purchased from foreign countries, mainly China – a non-TPP member.

Deputy Minister Tran Tuan Anh said the TPP would be an impulse for Viet Nam's economy to gear towards comprehensive renovation, a higher competitive edge and a better business environment.

Anticipating opportunities afforded by the TPP, lots of US businesses have suggested expanding footwear orders with Viet Nam, while many others have invested in weaving and dyeing projects in the country.

The trend sparks the hope that the TPP will continue creating a momentum for the two countries' relationship, he said.

Economists also stressed the need to provide more information about the two countries' markets and conduct trade promotion activities such as exhibitions, workshops and market surveys.

The US now has more than 720 valid projects in Viet Nam. In the first quarter of 2015, US investors poured nearly $68 million into eight new projects in the country.


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