US supports Vietnam's WTO bid but says more reforms needed now
HANOI (AFP) -
States has said it strongly supports Vietnam's accession to the World Trade
web sites) (WTO) by 2005 but has warned that the communist nation needs to
do more and quicker to realize its ambitious goal.
US charge d'affaires in Vietnam, told a two-day seminar which ended Wednesday in
Hanoi, that the success of the US-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement (BTA) has
demonstrated the benefits of trade liberalization.
however, that the pace of reform in response to the trade pact was "not fast
enough to meet Vietnam's WTO accession goal".
Vietnam's need to extend under WTO rules its BTA tariff commitments on 261 items
to 100 percent of its imported products.
Favoured Nation bilateral commitments must also be extended to all 146 WTO
member countries, he said.
view Vietnam's 2005 target date as overly optimistic, saying 2006-2007 is a more
realistic entry point.
were also needed to protect intellectual property rights, improve government
transparency and open up the service sector to foreign investment, Porter added.
liberalisation, Vietnam will continue to lag behind its neighbours," he said.
"Vietnam needs to look at the BTA as a starting point -- not an end point -- for
its multilateral negotiations."
Billed as a
precursor for Vietnam's entry into the WTO, the BTA was signed in July 2000
after six years of tortuous negotiations, but only came into force on December
For Vietnam, the
deal triggered the immediate slashing of punitive US tariffs on Vietnamese
exports, while US investors were promised a loosening of the country's tightly
controlled markets in a phased process.
that negotiations for Vietnam to join the global trade body would, like those
for the BTA, be challenging, but the focus, he said, needed to remain on the
long-term benefits of accession.
understand that this is not an easy process. Some decisions in the short run
will be very difficult to make and will bring about difficult adjustments.
decisions should be kept in the context of the long-term benefits that WTO
membership will bring," he said.
that "the US government will continue its strong support throughout this
The pledge of
support is likely to come as welcome relief to Hanoi following a turbulent
period of bilateral trade relations characterised by an acrimonious dispute over
Vietnamese catfish exports to the United States.
US-Vietnam relations were only established in 1995, a year after then-president
Bill Clinton (news
web sites) lifted a trade embargo on the Southeast Asian nation.
received considerable international support in its bid to join the WTO. Last
month, Asian and European economic ministers meeting in China said they
supported accelerating Vietnam's application for membership.
however, business leaders and donor representatives meeting in Hanoi said
Vietnam needed to make a "quantum leap" in regulatory and market reforms to meet
its target date.
Vietnam began 'doi
moi', or its gradual transition to a "socialist-leaning market economy", in