VCCI President: Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership to further Develop in Effective, Sustainable Manner

1:40:13 PM | 9/10/2020

At the US-Vietnam Business Summit held on October 9 in Hanoi by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi (AmCham) and the US Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Dr. Vu Tien Loc, VCCI President delivered the keynote remarks with the theme: “The Next Stage of Commercial Relations: Views from the Private Sector”.

Vietnam Business Forum would like to introduce the full remarks.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

There are many concerns in the world today, and relationships are at the heart of them. Many people are concerned about humanity’s relationship with this fragile planet. And of course, Covid has brought all kinds of matters about relationships at work, among nations, families, and friends into sharp focus. More than ever, how we respond to the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is essential to ensuring inclusive growth and sustainable recovery.

We are here today, twenty-five years on from the re-opening of relationships between our two countries. Who, twenty-five years ago, would have thought it possible we could arrive where we now are? Yet here we are. We rely on the quality of relationship for our personal, economic as well as political sense of well-being. Good working partnerships are at the heart of that.

Vietnam and the U.S. are now comprehensive trade partners. In 1994, bilateral trade between us was $450 million. In 2019, it was $77 billion which is an 171-time increase within a quarter of a century. That’s truly exponential! For several years, the U.S. has been Vietnam’s biggest export market, while Vietnam has been one of the U.S.’s fastest growing export markets. Vietnam’s leaders have confirmed that the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the US will be further developed in an effective and sustainable manner, in the interest of our two peoples and for the purposes of contributing to peace, security and prosperity in this region and the world.

As we celebrate 25 years of deliberately growing this partnership, the U.S. is renewing its commitment to a strong and independent Vietnam and a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. In the 2017 APEC CEO Summit, President Trump said that Vietnam is in the very heart of the Indo Pacific region. He has affirmed that the development of the US-Vietnam partnership is a special feat. It may not be well recognized in the world at large, but it is a matter of day-to-day experience here that the US-Vietnam relationship stands as a beacon of what determined diplomacy based on a recognition of mutual interests and underpinned by trade can do in establishing trust. Today our experience of cooperation through trade has created the basis for trust and understanding, allowing the two countries to establish a comprehensive partnership as evidenced not only by the increasing trade relationship but the strength of the connection between the two countries’ peoples in their strategic cooperation. In this 25-year journey of our bilateral relationship, the Amcham in Vietnam has played a significant role. The chair of the Amcham Hanoi, Virginia Foote, is a long-time friend with Vietnam and has worked tirelessly to contribute to this partnership. Thank you Virgnia. Thank you Amcham in Vietnam.

In the next phase of our commercial relations, I see a number of key sectors that might be of interest to businesses of both countries. Energy, infrastructure, and digital economy – just to name a few.

Energy

With a rapidly growing economy, Vietnam is facing an increase in energy demand. It is forecasted to grow about 10 percent annually. We thank Amcham for their support to the Made in Vietnam Energy Plan which was released in December 2019. This is therefore of strategic significance that American investors continue to work closely with their Vietnamese counterparts in the energy sector in the next stage of our bilateral relationship.

Infrastructure

The Asian Development Bank estimated that Vietnam needs to invest USD480 billion during 2017-2030, or on average USD34 billion/year, in infrastructure. The current infrastructure gap is approximately USD14billion/year. This investment in infrastructure is a huge opportunity for private companies, especially American companies, to increase its presence in Vietnam. In June this year, the Public-Private Partnership Investment Law was passed with the hope that both public and private financing mechanisms including sound public-private partnership models, can help Vietnam successfully move infrastructure projects from concept to implementation. In fact, I will discuss this topic of infrastructure further, in a panel of the 2020 Indo Pacific Business Forum on October 28-29 co-hosted by the US Department of State and our office VCCI.

Digital transformation 

In 2019, 61 percent of the Vietnamese population were using the internet. In 2023, this figure is projected to grow to 75 percent. With this fast-growing rate of connectivity, Vietnam’s digital economy is growing at an unparalleled pace. However, that comes with challenges too, for both regulators and users. We would like to work closely with our American business partners to pursue sustainable growth in the digital economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To support our growing partnership, the VCCI and the Amcham in Vietnam have agreed to establish a U.S.-Vietnam Business Council. Through regular dialogue, problem solving, and collaboration, the Council will seek to promote the growth of two-way trade and investment between our two countries; eliminate barriers to trade and investment; and support negotiations for bilateral, regional, or multilateral free trade, investment, and/or taxation agreements. Both ways, we open ourselves to the proper pursuit of business interests.

We are all honored that so many speakers from the U.S. and Vietnam, who are of great statesmanship and eminence, are joining us today. I do not want to anticipate what they are going to say, but am very conscious that not least among them will be all our memories of the late Senator John McCain whose widow, Cindy McCain, especially touches our hearts in being with us. I would especially wish on behalf of all us in Vietnam to send our love and gratitude for such generosity of spirit.

We can’t talk about John McCain without talking about John Kerry. Thank you Mr Kerry for all of your work as a Vietnam veteran, a senator, a secretary of state to build this relationship over many decades, before and after the normalisation in 1995.

Madame Albright, it was during your term as secretary of state, for the first time ever a president of United States of America, President Bill Clinton together with his wife Hillary and their daughter Chelsea, paid visit to an united Vietnam, in 2000. Exactly 20 years ago.  It was the same year that Vietnam joined the United States in signing an historic bilateral trade agreement which President Clinton said “ it is what I believe will be seen as a pivotal step toward Vietnam’s prosperity”. It is indeed the case.

Ambassador Le Bang and Vice Minister Vu Quang Minh, thank you for your pioneering work in building and healing our relationships with the United States in the last several decades.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am also honoured that Ms. Virginia Foote, Chair of AmCham Hanoi, and Mr. Chad Ovel, Chair of AmCham Ho Chi Minh City & Da Nang, are here to sign the MOU. This is the outcome of the work we have all done to create the U.S.-Vietnam Business Council. We look forward to holding our first meeting later this year and working together to promote the interests of our respective private sectors. 2021 is the beginning of the next quarter century. I extend an invitation to all of you here now, to celebrate with us again in 2045 – though I am sure we shall have much cause for lots of celebrations between now and then!

Source: Vietnam Business Forum