Vietnam affirms fair approach in trade with US

By Khanh Lynh, Tuan Hoang   June 28, 2019 | 07:57 am PT
Vietnam affirms fair approach in trade with US
The U.S. is one of Vietnam's top trade partners. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
Vietnam has asserted that its trade with the U.S. is based on freedom, fairness and timely resolution of problems that arise.

With the view that the two economies can complement each other, Vietnam promotes economic, trade and investment relations with the U.S. in the spirit of freedom and fairness for mutual benefit, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said Friday. She was responding to media questions about President Donald Trump’s critical statement on bilateral trade ties with Vietnam.

During a Wednesday interview with the Fox Business Network, Trump hinted he might impose tariffs on Vietnam, which has benefited from the US-China trade dispute. He said Vietnam was the "single worst abuser of everybody".

"A lot of companies are moving to Vietnam, but Vietnam takes advantage of us even worse than China. So there’s a very interesting situation going on there," Trump said, adding that Washington was in discussions with Hanoi.

Hang said Vietnam has made a lot of effort to improve bilateral trade balance, boosting the import of American goods with high demand, improving its investment and business climate, creating favorable conditions for American businesses, and encouraging Vietnamese enterprises to make business in the U.S.

Vietnam has also implemented many solutions to combat trade fraud, including foreign goods in the name of Vietnamese goods exported to other markets, she said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo courtesy of the foreign ministry.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang. Photo courtesy of the foreign ministry.

Vietnam and the U.S. have regular exchanges through existing mechanisms like the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) towards formulating comprehensive and long-term cooperation strategies, strengthening bilateral economic, trade and investment ties, and solving problems arising in time, she added.

Hang emphasized that Vietnam appreciates the development of a comprehensive partnership with the United States. "The two countries over the past years have witnessed great progress in all fields, especially economy, trade and investment," she said.

The U.S. Treasury in late May added Vietnam to a currency manipulation watchlist, citing the country's trade surplus with the U.S as a factor.

The U.S. labels a country as a currency manipulator if it meets two of the following three criteria: a current account surplus with the U.S. equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); a trade surplus of at least $20 billion; and persistent market intervention on behalf of the nation’s currency.

Vietnam met two of the three criteria, having a trade surplus with the U.S. that has risen over the last decade to reach $40 billion in 2018, twice the threshold of $20 billion. The country’s current account balance with the U.S. has also been rising over the last decade, reaching a surplus of more than 5 percent of the GDP in the four quarters through June 2018, more than double the threshold of 2 percent, the U.S Treasury said.

The U.S. Treasury has excused Vietnam’s recent currency intervention as the Vietnamese authorities have credibly conveyed a "reasonable rationale" for rebuilding reserves.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) in response said the country seeks no unfair advantage over other countries. It said it would cooperate with the U.S. in providing data on its currency and macroeconomic policies, if needed.

The SBV added that it would continue to manage the Vietnamese dong flexibly without seeking unfair trade advantage over other countries.

The eight other countries in the monitoring list are China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Singapore and Malaysia.

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