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June 25, 2008

Vietnam boost trade ties with US
US and Vietnamese firms signed several businesses deals on Tuesday as the two countries pledged to boost trade ties during a state visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Dung presided over the signing of contracts and other agreements that the Commerce Department said represented "expanded access for US companies to Vietnam's growing market."

A memorandum of cooperation was also signed between Vietrade, the Vietnam trade promotion agency, and the US Foreign and Commercial Service. President George W Bush later met with Dung at the White House.

The Commerce Department said the new business deals support jobs in the United States and further increase US exports to Vietnam, which grew almost 73 percent in 2007 and more than 133 percent year in April from a year ago.

"American companies offer the products and services that will help Vietnam meet the demands of its rapidly developing economy, while supporting American growth and job creation," Gutierrez said.

Signing contracts with their Vietnamese counterparts were aluminium giant Alcoa, electronic communications manufacturer Motorola Inc. and travel technology firm Sabre Holdings.

Alcoa and Gannon had been among the 23 US companies that accompanied Gutierrez's business development mission to Vietnam in November.

Alcoa signed a cooperation agreement with Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group on aluminium industry development.

Motorola and Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group signed contracts worth 28 million dollars for the expansion of a GSM mobile phone network across 12 northern provinces of Vietnam.

Sabre Holdings and Vietnam Airlines Corporation signed a definitive memorandum of understanding for the purchase of an Internet-booking engine and e-commerce solution and a passenger services system.

Two US companies received investment licenses for joint ventures: SSA Marine, for container terminals, and Gannon International, for a brewery and bottling facility.

In a related story, AFP reported the US and Vietnam agreed Tuesday to launch talks for a bilateral investment treaty as their companies signed several deals during the visit by Vietnamese Premier.

The investment accord "will build on the already strong economic ties between the United States and Vietnam, one of the fastest growing markets for US exports," US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said.

When concluded, it will provide US investors in Vietnam with key legal protections and enhanced market access with "important direct and collateral benefits for US exporters and consumers alike," she said. The two former battlefield enemies normalised trade relations in 2001.

Two-way goods trade rose 30 percent to 12.5 billion dollars in 2007 from a year earlier.

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