Vietnam Time

6/18/2015 11:30:08 PM

20 years of Vietnam-US trade relations: undisputable results

Vietnam and the US are celebrating an important event that occurred 20 years ago when the US officially lifted its embargo on Vietnam, the last barrier to normalized bilateral relations. In 1994, Vietnam - US relations entered a new period of mutual trust aimed towards a better future.

When the war ended, one of the messages that the Vietnamese leaders conveyed to the US was that Vietnam wanted to build good relations with the US based on mutual respect. In that spirit, Vietnam undertook necessary activities to avoid worsening its future relations with the US. There is no animosity towards the US in Vietnam and Vietnam wants to see a similar attitude from the US. Vietnam asked the US to normalize relations. In January, 1977, the US State Department introduced a three-step roadmap to normalize relations with Vietnam.

17 years later, after much effort from both sides, US President Bill Clinton announced the official lifting of trade sanctions on Vietnam on February 3, 1994. It was a milestone in expanding Vietnam-US relations to their present scale. Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang wrote in a letter to Clinton that ending the sanctions put an end to a difficult period between the two countries and opened a new chapter in bilateral ties.

Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong and US politicians at a ceremony in Washington DC to mark the 20th anniversary of normalizing Vietnam-US ties (1994–2014)

Impressive statistics

Vietnam-US relations have grown practically and effectively, especially with the establishment of a comprehensive partnership last July during President Sang’s visit to the US. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said: "Trade revenue, which was just 450 million USD at the time we normalized relations, has increased 50 times. That represents enormous progress in Vietnam’s foreign relations. The US is the 7th largest investor in Vietnam with total direct investment of 10 billion USD. We have a lot of potential for economic, trade, and investment cooperation. Vietnam and the US will focus on these sectors."

Based on cooperative results over the last 20 years, Vietnam and the US are working to define trade and investment cooperation rules that will boost economic growth in each country. The two countries are pushing ahead negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a foundation for economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region which will benefit the economic interests of both countries.

Efforts toward long-term future cooperation

20 years ago Vietnam and the US began their cooperation with many differences and a fresh memory of a destructive war. Cooperation was limited to an exploratory scale. The current results are thanks to tireless efforts by the two countries’ leaders, business sectors, and people. The active role of US senators like John Kerry, who is now Secretary of State, has been acknowledged.

Coming to Vietnam 14 times in different capacities, Mr. Kerry exerted his personal efforts toward reconciliation and expanded relations. His hope is for the image of Vietnam to be no longer attached to war but rather to a prosperous and rapidly developing nation, Kerry said during a visit to Vietnam last December. "When I came to Hanoi the first time in 1991 as a senator,I had an impression of a very different Hanoi. The streets were generally filled with bicycles. Today, the energy of the city is remarkable as well as the energy of the nation. Since we lifted the embargo and normalized relations, Vietnam has become a modern nation and a developed partner of the US. Despite the difficult history that our nations shared, we've always been impressed by many visits to Vietnam from working on the WTO to POW/MIA,on lifting the embargo to the normalization." 

National interests and recent world events have motivated Vietnam and the US to draw closer together. The 20th anniversary of normalized Vietnam-US ties is an important milestone and an apt moment to review the results of past cooperation and set a course towards even more effective future cooperation./.

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