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Vietnam’s Ambassador champions improved relations

Nguyen Tam Chien represents Vietnam’s new face in Washington

Ambassador Nguyen Tam Chien.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and U.S. Senator John McCain.

“Now twenty-six years after the war, our ties have matured enough for the two countries to sort out their differences through cooperation and dialogues,” said Ambassador Nguyen Tam Chien at a recent Asia Society function.

These remarks reinforce the successfully signed U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. The Agreement is a key step in the normalization process launched by President George H.W. Bush some ten years ago and continued through President Clinton’s administration.

Vietnam’s willingness to move forward with a new relationship with America was demonstrated by Vietnam’s National Assembly’s passage of the bill and subsequent signing by their president, Tran Duc Luong. Vietnam’s president stated that the agreement will have a “lasting and profound impact on the economy, culture, society, security, and even defense of Vietnam.”

The U.S. support for the trade deal was largely made up of a bipartisan coalition of congressional leaders including Senators John McCain and John Kerry. Both served honorably during the Vietnam War. During last fall’s US. Senate debate on the trade bill, Senator McCain, stated, “ I supported normalization of our relations with Vietnam for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I could no longer see the benefits of fighting about it. America has moved on as has Vietnam.”

In this spirit of cooperation and inevitable healing of old war wounds, America and Vietnam are building new economic and even cultural bridges of understanding. Ambassador Chien expresses his firm belief and confidence that the relations between the two countries will continue in areas of economy, trade, science, technology, education and training.

Others involved in the BTA negotiations, including United States Trade Representative, Robert B. Zoellick commented, “We hope that the agreement will help speed up Vietnam’s integration into the economy of the Asia-Pacific and the world.”

In Hanoi, the government has pledged to issue foreign licenses in the shortest possible time, reduce the application costs, and help new business develop as fast as possible, according to Planning and Investment Minister Tran Xuan Gia. He added, “there’s the need to speed up administrative reforms to help save foreign investors’ time, money and energy.”

Last year the U.S. exported over $368 million of goods, including industrial machinery, fertilizers, and semiconductors to Vietnam. The same year, Vietnam exported $821 million worth of goods to the United States. With the lower tariffs that will go into effect under the BTA, trade flow will benefit both countries.

As the voice of Vietnam in Washington, Ambassador Chien, has met with President George W. Bush and reaffirmed the country’s friendship and cooperation in all matters.

Bush has publicly acknowledged Vietnam’s record of cooperation in accounting for the American servicemen missing in action during the war.

While there is a renewed spirit born out of commerce and opportunity, it may be too easy to assume that Vietnam is poised to become another true Asian tiger or baby dragon. The gloss of the immediate post-doi moi years dulled several years ago, and many businesses which invested than still face the same concerns today that they addressed in the early years, when the foreign press touted the future of this nation.

“The lesson we have drawn from the BTA process is that only by working together can we both win and can we build a good future. I fervently believe that the more Vietnam and the United States cooperate, the more we gain in understanding,” added Ambassador Chien.

© InternationalReports.net / The Washington Times 1994-2002

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