Yesterday U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was in Vietnam on the first leg of her Asia commercial diplomacy trip. Along with the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) members and a delegation of U.S. CEOs, she is visiting Vietnam, as well as the Philippines and Burma later this week, to strengthen trade and investment and encourage deeper business-to-business ties and demonstrate the Obama administration's ongoing commitment to Asia.
As part of this trip, Secretary Pritzker met with several government leaders to discuss opportunities for U.S. companies to do more business in Vietnam. This afternoon Secretary Pritzker met first with her counterpart Vu Huy Hoang, the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade. The Secretary and the Minister discussed of ways to increase economic engagement between the US and Vietnam, specifically speaking about the investment climate for US firms and trade relations relations and the United States’ commitment to concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Secretary Pritzker and Minister Hoang then met with the USABC CEO delegation and talked about the U.S. private sector’s commitment to Vietnam.
Secretary Pritzker then met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to opening a new phase of bilateral relations with Vietnam. After discussing outstanding bilateral economic, trade and investment issues, the leaders were joined by the USABC delegation for a conversation about enhancing commercial ties between the United States and Vietnam and throughout the ASEAN region.
Finally, Secretary Pritzker, and later the USABC delegation, met with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. The Secretary expressed support for progress in the growing bilateral relationship between the United States and Vietnam since the establishment of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership in July 2013.
Secretary Pritzker also discussed the importance of entrepreneurship to the Vietnamese economy. At a round table conversation with AmCham Vietnam, she talked about her work as chair of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), an Obama Administration initiative announced earlier this year to support the creators of new businesses around the world. Throughout her visit, Secretary Pritzker engaged government and business leaders on the subject of entrepreneurship, a major priority for the Commerce Department.
Vietnam has experienced strong economic growth in recent years. Since starting its reforms toward a more market-based economy in the 1980s, Vietnam has experienced one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world. There is a history of U.S. business engagement in Vietnam, and since the U.S. and Vietnam signed a Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2001, trade between the two countries has increased from $2.9 billion in 2002 to just under $30 billion in 2013.
The United States recognizes the vast potential for mutually beneficial growth in the whole ASEAN region. U.S. businesses can help create shared prosperity and deepen the economic connections that increase opportunity. U.S. businesses want to be part of the solution as countries across the region look to support a growing middle class, develop world-class infrastructure, unleash sustainable energy, and invest in their futures.