U.S. Commerce Secretary Gutierrez to Lead Business Development Mission to Vietnam

WASHINGTON – U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez announced he will lead a business development mission to Vietnam in late 2007. The mission will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses, and is the first Secretarial Business Development mission to visit Vietnam.

“Vietnam is an exciting new market that is providing opportunities for American businesses, manufacturers, and service providers,” said Gutierrez. “I look forward to leading a delegation of U.S. businesses to Vietnam so our companies can explore export opportunities for American goods and services that create higher paying American jobs here at home.”

The mission will help U.S companies develop business and government contacts, solidify business strategies and obtain market access information. This opportunity also provides a platform for addressing policy and commercial issues including transparency, rule of law, intellectual property rights protection, trading and distribution rights, that U.S. companies face in the Vietnamese market. The delegation will include a cross-section of U.S. industries with commercial interests in Vietnam.

With a GDP of $ 61 billion and a young population of 84 million, Vietnam is one of the newest members of the WTO and one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. Since the signing of the U.S. – Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2001, two-way goods trade has increased from about $1.5 billion to $9.7 billion. Total U.S. merchandise exports to Vietnam in 2006 were $1.1 billion. Year-to-date through May 2007, U.S. exports have grown 65.1 percent over the same period last year.

When Vietnam joined the WTO, tariffs were reduced on over 94 percent of industrial and consumer goods, with tariffs now below 5 percent in several key sectors, including construction equipment, pharmaceuticals and aircraft.

U.S. service suppliers now enjoy improved market access in Vietnam in many significant sectors, including telecommunications, financial services, distribution, and energy services. Through WTO accession, additional opportunities became available through government transparency and protection of intellectual property.

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