US, Vietnam ink $42 m deal on boosting economic competitiveness

By Nguyen Quy   April 17, 2020 | 12:19 am PT
US, Vietnam ink $42 m deal on boosting economic competitiveness
A worker assembles a bicycle at a workshop in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
A $42 million US-Vietnam agreement will focus on making the private sector, startup ecosystems and human capital more competitive.

Under the agreement signed Wednesday by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, the deal will foster greater entrepreneurship, enable deeper linkages of Vietnamese startups to corporations, investment capital, and other supporting organizations in the international innovation and startup ecosystems; and churn out high-quality human capital needed for a robust knowledge-based economy.

The agreement reflects the United States’ continued commitment to support Vietnam’s efforts to become a more open, innovative, and inclusive economy, said Daniel Kritenbrink, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam.

"Through close collaboration with the government of Vietnam, we can ensure that USAID’s development assistance will meet our two countries’ mutual vision for a prosperous and independent Vietnam," he said.

A U.S. Embassy statement released Thursday said USAID technical assistance activities will enhance the capacity of small and growing Vietnamese businesses, including those led by vulnerable populations, by facilitating access to competitiveness-enhancing technology, business management skills, and capital.

Last September, USAID introduced a $22.1 million project to connect Vietnam’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with foreign partners and enhance their capacity to join global value chains.

According to Vietnam’s General Statistics Office, SMEs accounted for a whopping 98 percent of all enterprises in the country, 63 percent of its employment, and 45 percent of the national gross domestic product between 2010 and 2017.

Meanwhile, trade between the U.S. and Vietnam grew from $1.5 billion in 2001 to $77.6 billion in 2019, transforming Vietnam into the 7th-largest source of U.S. imports and 27th largest destination for U.S. exports, U.S. trade statistics show.

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