U.S.-Vietnam agree to Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) negotiations

Washington DC. Mar 19, 2007 – U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem met on Friday. They announced the launch of negotiations to conclude a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which will serve as a platform on which the two countries will work to further strengthen their trade and investment ties.

“I am enthusiastic about our joint vision for the future of this relationship,” Ambassador Schwab said. “Vietnam is a dynamic and rapidly growing economy, and we see a TIFA as an important vehicle for promoting continuation of the impressive expansion in our trade and investment relationship that we have witnessed over the past few years.”

The TIFA will establish a formal dialogue under which the two countries intend to discuss new initiatives to deepen their trade and investment ties. It also will provide a forum for monitoring Vietnam’s implementation of its WTO and Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) commitments.

“We are pleased with Vietnam’s progress so far in implementing its WTO and BTA commitments,” said Ambassador Schwab. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Vietnamese Government to support these efforts and ensure that American businesses can take full advantage of the substantial new opportunities in the Vietnamese market.”

Background

Vietnam is currently the United States’ 43rd largest goods trading partner with $9.7 billion in total goods trade during 2006. The United States exported $1.1 billion worth of goods to Vietnam last year. Two-way trade has grown 500 percent since 2001, when the United States and Vietnam signed a Bilateral Trade Agreement. Vietnam became the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 150th member on January 11, 2007. A market of over 82 million people, Vietnam is the 14th most populous nation in the world, and has experienced economic growth of over 7 percent per year for the last five years.

The TIFA would be negotiated under the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), an initiative which the Bush Administration launched to strengthen ties with countries in the commercially and strategically significant Southeast Asian region.

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VN-US Trade before BTA, 1996-2000.

VN-US Trade after BTA and WTO, 2001-2010.

Source of data: US Department of Commerce.

Vietnam’s total exports in 2006 (VN General Statistics Office)

Vietnam’s total imports in 2006 (VN General Statistics Office)

If present trends continue, …

Vietnam-U.S. trade by 2010 may reach US$ 16 billion a year, while the U.S. trade deficit with Vietnam may be over $14 billion.

Balance

The Vietnam – United States Bilateral Trade Agreement indicates that there should be a balance of “market access opportunities” and “concessions.”

“The Parties shall seek to achieve a satisfactory balance of market access opportunities through the satisfactory reciprocation of reductions in tariffs and nontariff barriers to trade in goods resulting from multilateral negotiations.”—U.S. – Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, July 13, 2000 Chapter I, Article 3. General Obligations with Respect to Trade.

“The Parties agree to establish a Joint Committee (“Committee”) on Development of Economic and Trade Relations between Vietnam and the United States of America. The Committee’s responsibilities shall include the following: B. ensuring that a satisfactory balance of concessions is maintained during the life of this Agreement;”—Chapter VI, General Articles, Article 5. Consultations.