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Diplomatic ties makes US, Vietnam's top trade partner

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2016-02-18 11:30:00 – Hanoi

With Vietnam and the US normalizing their diplomatic ties, the bilateral trade between the two countries has expanded from zero to US$36.3 billion in 2014. This figure is further expected to reach $40 billion by the end of this financial year.

Nguyen Duy Khien, head of the American Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), said that Vietnam shipped $30.6 billion worth of goods to the US in 2014, up 24 per cent against the previous year.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, among the free trade agreements Vietnam has engaged in, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is expected to afford favourable conditions for Vietnamese exports.

Vietnam began to access the US market in 1995. Vietnam's export turnover to the country reached $800 million in 2000 – the year the Vietnam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement was signed, according to the MoIT,

The US has become Vietnam's largest importer, purchasing garments, electronic products, footwear, rice and fish from the Southeast Asian nation.

In the sphere of investment, the US ranked seventh among the countries and territories investing in Vietnam with a total direct investment of $10.7 billion by June this year.

Vu Duc Giang, President of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, said that Vietnam was the world's fifth largest garment-textile exporter, and the US remained the country's top market in this field.

However, the garment-textile and footwear sectors are forecast to face difficulties as a result of Vietnam's TPP membership as the US has initiated the "yarn forward" rule of origin.

In order to benefit from tax breaks, Vietnamese companies must use materials imported from other TPP members, this would be a real challenge for Vietnamese businesses when up to 70 percent of materials they are currently using are purchased from foreign countries, mainly China – a non-TPP member.

Deputy Minister Tran Tuan Anh said that the TPP would be an impulse for Vietnam's economy to gear towards comprehensive renovation, a higher competitive edge and a better business environment.

Anticipating opportunities afforded by the TPP, many of US businesses have invested in weaving and dyeing projects in the country. The trend sparks the hope that the TPP will continue creating a momentum for the two countries' relationship.

The US now has more than 720 valid projects in Vietnam. In the first quarter of 2015, US investors poured nearly $68 million into eight new projects in the country.

According to Economists, there is a need to provide more information about the two countries' markets and conduct trade promotion activities such as exhibitions, workshops and market surveys.

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