1st Chairman’s Circle reception for 2021 focused on 2021 U.S.-Vietnam Leadership Changes and the Impact on Your Business

Our first Chairman’s Circle reception for 2021 on Wednesday, February 3,  focused on 2021 U.S.-Vietnam Leadership Changes and the Impact on Your Business.  The exclusive event offered senior AmCham business leaders an opportunity to obtain critical business intelligence and exchange views with a top panel of Vietnamese, regional, and U.S. economic and political experts about the likely focus of the Biden/Harris Administration and new Vietnamese Government leadership just two weeks after the U.S. inauguration and two days after conclusion of Vietnam’s 13th National Party Congress.

The event featured an all-star cast of experts, including:

Nguyen Xuan Thanh

Lecturer of Public Policy

Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management

Michael Kokalari

Chief Economist


Dr. Deborah Elms

Founder & Executive Director

Asian Trade Centre (ATC)

Nguyen Khac Giang


Co-author of “Civil Society in Vietnam: An Institutional Approach”

Steven Okun

Senior Advisor

McLarty Associates

Charles Freeman

Senior Vice President for Asia

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The key takeaways for the U.S.-Vietnam relationship, business climate in Vietnam, and prospects for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) were:  Continuity.  Balance.  Opportunity to Reset.  Need to Exercise Patience.  Hurry Up and Wait.  Demonstrate benefits to American workers of trade and costs of loss of competitiveness if the U.S. remains on the sidelines of FTAs.  Invest in Vietnamese Real Estate!  

Putting it all together, our experts recognized significant continuity in Vietnam’s leadership and its continued desire to balance relations with the United States and China.  Yet, there is an opportunity to reset the bilateral relationship.  AmCham leaders should exercise patience as we hurry up and wait laying groundwork for a bilateral FTA or the United States joining an improved Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), with at least United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) standards, especially on labor and the environment.  We need to demonstrate benefits to American workers of trade and the costs of loss of competitiveness if we stay on the sidelines of FTAs, while recognizing geopolitical security concerns may be as compelling as economic concerns in getting support for an FTA.  And meanwhile, if we have any spare cash, we should invest in Vietnamese real estate, since more inbound investment is coming, especially in manufacturing, and the new Prime Minister is likely to ensure more progress on real estate and infrastructure investment. 

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