to two-thirds of Americans in a poll support Vietnamís entry into the World
Trade Organization, said Charlene Barshefsky, American Ambassador to Vietnam
and former U.S. trade official on Tuesday.
The poll also found that two-thirds of Americans are happy with trade
growth since the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Agreement took effect in 2001, said
Mrs. Barshefsky at a meeting with businesspeople in Hanoi Jan. 18.
Ambassador Barshefsky worked as chief trade negotiator and principal trade
policy maker for the United States from 1996 to 2001.
"Other than Great Britain, no country ranks this high in American public
opinion," Ms. Barshefsky. "This is really quite remarkable."
She said Vietnam benefits from a strong standing with the American public.
The U.S. will grant the permanent normal trade relations status for Vietnam
although negotiations are still underway, she said.
According to her, Vietnam has a lot more to gain by obtaining admission to
the World Trade Organization. But the country also must struggle to compete
with neighboring China, a dilemma also facing the U.S.
"Vietnam's own emergence as an exporter and a country for investment is
happening at the same time as China's emergence," she said, adding that
Vietnam must rapidly enact economic reforms to lure foreign investors.
America is now Vietnam's biggest export market, she said. Vietnam's exports
to the U.S. have risen six-fold since the BTA took effect in 2001, she said.
Vietnam's stateside shipments have jumped to 5 billion USD from 800 million
USD since the two countries signed the pact, said Ms. Barshefsky who
negotiated the agreement.
An estimated 50 million pairs of shoes Ďmade in Vietnam have been purchased
in America. Vietnam is now one of the four largest shoe suppliers to the
U.S.-bound exports of furniture have also been on the increase. Vietnamese
companies reportedly sell 2.6 million chairs to the U.S. in 2004 compared
with the 20,000 in 2000.
Vietnam has boosted the shipment of farm produce, including coffee, cashews
and pepper to the market.
Regarding the sales of pepper and chili to the market, Vietnam is the third
largest supplier following Mexico and India.
"Vietnamese exporters have surpassed the farmers and factories of such
longtime American trade partners as Turkey, South Africa, Poland and
Argentina and are now approaching those of major developed countries like
Australia and Spain," she said.
Another benefit from the BTA is that more U.S. investors have come to
Vietnam, she said. The membership of the American Chamber of Commerce in
Vietnam now numbers 278. (Agencies)