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Remarks by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross at the Vietnam CEO Luncheon in Hanoi, Vietnam

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

It is my pleasure to be here in Hanoi with all of you, and to be leading a delegation of American companies as we forge stronger commercial ties between our two nations. Thank you to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the BRG Group for hosting today’s luncheon.

A special thank you to Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of VCCI; and Madam Nguyen Thi Nga, Chairwoman of BRG Group. I had a great conversation with both of you earlier today about how your organizations and the U.S. Department of Commerce can work together to advance the U.S.-Vietnam trade relationship. I appreciate the work you are doing to create a strong economic future for Vietnam. 

As we mark the 25th anniversary of trade and investment ties between our nations, it is rewarding to see so many U.S. and Vietnamese business leaders creating such close partnerships and friendships. I am joined by a delegation of U.S. companies that are looking to grow this important relationship. The companies on our trade mission are leaders in their industries, and represent diverse sectors including aviation, energy, healthcare, and technology.

We arrived in Hanoi yesterday from Jakarta. Prior to that, we attended the ASEAN meeting and the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok.

We are here because we value the U.S.-Vietnam relationship and we see opportunities for our companies to be successful and prosper in both the U.S. and Vietnamese markets.

Over the course of the last 25 years, trade between our nations has grown exponentially. U.S. goods exports to Vietnam have more than quadrupled in the last decade, reaching $10 billion in 2018. And the United States is the largest export market for Vietnamese goods.

However, we are concerned about the goods trade deficit of $40 billion. We want to work with the Vietnamese government on reducing this trade deficit.

Vietnam’s commitment to economic reform and liberalization should help. The United States is ready to support all of these efforts to open markets, reduce red tape, and increase opportunities for businesses and their workers. And that is why we are here today.

The members of our business delegation want to connect with your companies to form mutually beneficial relationships. And the Commerce Department will continue our efforts to make connections and improve the business climate. Next March, my department will lead the first Asia EDGE trade mission, including stops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. "EDGE" stands for “Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy.”

Representatives from U.S. energy companies will meet with decision makers in the government and in Vietnam’s private sector to promote their capabilities for providing sustainable, secure, and profitable energy systems for Vietnam. 

A month later, in April 2020, the U.S. Commerce Department is sponsoring the Trade Winds Indo-Pacific Trade Mission with another delegation of companies. Trade Winds is the United States’ largest annual trade mission, and it will include a stop in Vietnam for the first time.

There is good reason for us to be here. We have now been working together for 25 years.

And Vietnamese companies are growing. As they grow, there is a great deal more opportunity for overseas investment. If your company is serious about being competitive globally, you should consider investing in the United States. The U.S. has the world’s largest market with a GDP of more than $20 trillion, and 325 million people, the third largest population after China and India.

Real median household income reached a new high of $63,000 last year. Companies from every country in the world have invested in the United States, to the tune of $4.3 trillion at the end of last year. In 2018, FDI flows into the United States totaled $254 billion. And foreign companies in the U.S. spent $60 billion on R&D. They are in the best place in the world to keep abreast of the latest in innovation, technology, research, and best business practices.

Foreign companies operating in the U.S. are guaranteed protection of their intellectual property through the vigorous enforcement of our patent and trademark laws. 53 percent of all U.S. utility patents filed are from foreign sources.

Foreign firms operating in the United States are also successfully selling their products into other global markets. They exported $370 billion worth of goods last year from their U.S. operations, more than one-quarter of the country’s goods exports. 

Tens of thousands of non-U.S. companies have created a foothold in the United States, and they are more profitable and successful as a result. 

There are many other intangible benefits of investing in the United States, including an incredibly high quality of life; a diversity of cultures and climates; spectacular beaches, mountains, deserts, cities, and 15,372 golf courses. And you wouldn’t be alone: There are 2.1 million Vietnamese Americans. 

The best way to learn about potential investment opportunities is by attending the SelectUSA Summit scheduled next year from June 1st to June 3rd in Washington, D.C. Almost all of the states in the U.S. send officials from their economic development offices to the event, and there are speakers from companies that have invested in the United States, and can provide you with advice. Vietnam sent the second-largest business delegation in ASEAN to the SelectUSA Summit in June 2019. Madame Nga told me it was a beneficial event for BRG Group as it looks to invest in the United States. 

The United States is committed to the success of Vietnam. We will work with you to build deep and lasting ties to American companies and American consumers. We will help you cut regulations and red tape that will free up your own private sector, just as we have done in the United States.

In turn, we hope that Vietnam is receptive to U.S. goods and services, and that the business community works to create the conditions by which every company can succeed.

Thank you all for being a part of this event and for sitting down with us. I encourage you to meet the members of our delegation, exchange business cards, and follow up on partnerships and opportunities.

We all win when we all work together.

I look forward to fostering your success, and am honored to be here on the 25th anniversary of our alliance.

Thank you.
 

Leadership