U.S., Vietnam Pact Holds Promise For Manufacturers

Forty years ago, a bilateral market access agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam, then at war, would have been unthinkable. It's now about to be a reality, one that will benefit U.S. manufacturers and pave the way for Vietnam to join the 149-member World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S. and Vietnam reached an agreement in principle during the past weekend.

The pending agreement, when implemented, "opens a new and growing market for American agricultural goods, services, such as financial services, and manufactured products," explained Rob Portman, current U.S. Trade Representative and director designate of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

A formal signing of the agreement will occur "in the near future," once the U.S. and Vietnam have completed remaining legal steps to implementation," said Portman's office. Among the remaining steps is for the U.S. Congress to grant Vietnam "permanent normal trade relations" status, extending to the southeast Asian nation the same non-discriminatory treatment that most other U.S. trading partners have. Vietnam, which has been working on accession to the WTO since 1995, is still in the process of enacting legislation that will allow it to apply for WTO membership.

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