AmCham extends full support for Viet Nam’s WTO accession

HCM City. Oct 20, 2006. Viet Nam News spoke with the chairman of the HCM City chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), Walter Blocker, about Viet Nam’s prospects of World Trade Organisation (WTO) accession by the end of the year. Highlights are below.

Could you comment about the possibility of Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO later this year?

According to all the reports we have seen, Viet Nam will become a member of the WTO in December. Last week, on October 13, negotiations in Geneva concluded successfully on Viet Nam’s WTO accession. Next, the WTO Working Group on Viet Nam’s accession will circulate a draft report for formal approval at its meeting on October 25 or 26. After that, the WTO General Council will meet on November 7 to approve the report. Then, in December, Viet Nam will become a WTO member 30 days after it has ratified the package and informed the WTO that it has done so.

AmCham warmly welcomes this achievement. We have strongly supported Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO at the earliest possible date for several years and submitted a number of recommendations to the Vietnamese and US governments to accelerate the process.

What are the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ as it relates to the American business community?

VN-U.S. Trade, 2001-2010 On the “pro”, or opportunities, side of the balance sheet, there will certainly be even more opportunities for US importers and Vietnamese exporters in the US market.

In 2005, US imports from Viet Nam amounted to US$6.6 billion, of which $2.9 billion was apparel imports.

And Viet Nam ranked sixth in terms of market share in the US apparel market, ahead of some more established suppliers such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Honduras, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Guatemala.

In 2006, US imports from Viet Nam will be about $ 8.4 billion in 2006 and about $ 14 billion in 2010, as shown in the accompanying chart. (Click on the chart for a larger view.)

On the “con”, or challenges, side, in the U.S.-Vietnam WTO Bilateral Market Access Agreement, signed in HCM City on May 31, 2006, Viet Nam agreed to eliminate all “red-light” subsidies for the textile and apparel sector by the date of accession. AmCham remains concerned about its impact on employment and growth, though we are pleased that transitional measures were allowed to mitigate this impact on other industries.

What has the American business community done to prepare for Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO by the end of this year?

AmCham has recommended to both the Vietnamese and US governments specifics of the Viet Nam-US WTO Bilateral Market Access Agreement to help reach a positive agreement for all. We submitted detailed recommendations in September 2004, September 2005, March 2006, and May 2006.

In addition, AmCham has supported the People’s Committees of HCM City and Dong Nai in arranging trade and investment missions to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orlando for meetings with US businesses interested in FDI, infrastructure development and finance. — VNS

Read the full interview …