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Virginia Foote, President of the US Vietnam Trade Council
"Say No to any sanction against Vietnam"

The US Vietnam Trade Council (USVTC)  is a US organization which has a great deal of contributions to the development of economic and trade relation between the two sides, back to the days they negotiated the Bilateral Trade Relation (BTA) to date. Lao Dong Newspaper’s reporter interviewed Ms. Virginia Foote, President of USVTC, about the necessity of the accession to the WTO for the business of US and Vietnamese companies.

´ Ms. Foote, what are the benefits of joining WTO for Vietnam?
-  There are big benefits. Let’s take an example of the textile industry, a major export industry of Vietnam employing hundred thousands of Vietnamese workers. Currently, the industry is subject to the US and EU’s export quotas. The quotas will be eliminated by 2005 for WTO members. If eliminated, the export value of Vietnam can be doubled. But Vietnam will not be beneficial from such quota elimination if Vietnam as long as it is not a WTO member. On the other hand, WTO accession will pave the way for FDI to Vietnam. 149 WTO members will be prepared to invest in Vietnam once it becomes part of the global economy. In my opinion, the WTO accession will provide more channels for Vietnam. The non-WTO membership status brings about certain obstacles to the economic development of Vietnam.

´ USVTC has had many contributions to the conclusion of the BTA. Does the USVTC have any support to the WTO accession of Vietnam now?
- USVTC is interested in deed in the WTO accession of Vietnam in order to complete the trade normalization between Vietnam and the US. We have provided a number of technical assistances to Vietnam, provided the Vietnam WTO Accession Team with materials and information of accession of many other countries, bring WTO experts to Vietnam and very recently, assists Hanoi Law School in relation to an international trade law curriculum, etc. I fully believe that Vietnam can join the WTO as scheduled, which accession will be beneficial to enterprises of the two countries, for example, the settlement of bilateral trade disputes.

´ In consideration of the recent catfish case, do you think the US was fair? From the Vietnam’s WTO accession perspective, what are your views on the catfish case?
- I thought that it would be very difficult for Vietnam to win the case. US laws on non-market economies are very restrictive. I was unhappy that the US imposed such high AD rate on Vietnam catfish and that Vietnam was defeated before the US ITC. Like any other countries, the US has its laws to protect domestic products. The problem is whether such laws are contrary to international standards and whether they are fair. Vietnam can say that they are not fair while US companies can say conversely. The dispute should have been resolved by WTO rather than by the two side themselves. I think that if Vietnam was a WTO member, it could bring the case to the WTO and we would see if Vietnam was considered dumping its products in the US market according to international standards. That is why it is necessary to join the WTO. I repeat that the BTA contributes a lot to the development of the bilateral trade relation, but it is still insufficient, the next step is WTO accession that would help us to settle all issues of the trade relation between the two countries.

´ What do you think of the Human Right Act and the Smith Amendment linking non-humanitarian aids to the human right in Vietnam?
-  The US business community does not support any sanctions against Vietnam. It is the past of the two countries, now we are looking for expanding our relationship. My view is that the act will be revised, and when being tabled at the Congress it will ultimately no longer be a punitive act.

´ Are you optimistic about the trade potential between the two countries?
-  Absolutely I am. The trade volume was doubled after a year of implementation of the BTA, this year will see the same peak. Vietnamese companies have succeeded in the international market while it is not easy for companies of other small countries to do so. While Vietnam could manage it quickly and successfully, such success is simply the beginning. Many Vietnamese companies have entered the US market and had more directly market access. I think that such a trend will continue dramatically.  

Thank you Ms. Foote.


By Vinh Nguyen