May 17, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President;

As representatives of non-governmental organizations and educational institutions working with the people of Vietnam and Laos, we urge the President to submit, and the Congress to ratify, without delay or amendment, Bilateral Trade Agreements, which the United States has signed with their governments.

As non-governmental organizations (NGOs), our role is to provide humanitarian relief and development assistance and capacity building. As educational institutions, we offer opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and professional training and research exchanges. Our work contributes to people-to-people friendship and to deeper mutual understanding that heals wounds of the past and builds foundations for future relationships.

Private sector trade and investment do not involve our organizations directly but can have profound effects on the population with which we work. Efforts by Vietnamese and Lao leaders to overcome poverty on a national scale (and to foster cooperation with American humanitarian and strategic interests) will benefit greatly when the US establishes Normal Trade Relations such as exist with all but five other nations.

We are mindful that trade agreements are only the first stage of creating stronger mutually beneficial economic ties.

It is incumbent upon the governments of Laos and Vietnam through regulation and practice to provide foreign companies and their own state and private enterprises the legal framework and operational authority they need to successfully invest, build and trade.

It is equally incumbent upon the US private sector to provide to their local employees reasonable wages, decent working conditions, and opportunities for enhancement of skills and responsibilities. As good corporate citizens and guests, American companies should give the same attention as at home to wider social and educational needs and to environmental impact.

After twenty-five years of peace between our countries, it is time to foster Normal Trade Relations without additional conditions, thus taking the last major step for the normalization of our official relations.

Sincerely,

Mark Ashwill, Executive Director, U.S.-Indochina Educational Foundation
Chris Deegan, Director, Asian Studies, School for International Training
Beatrice Eisman, Chairperson, US-Vietnam Friendship Association
Martin Garate, Director, International Programs, American Friends Service Committee
Judith L. Ladinsky, Chair, US Committee for Scientific Cooperation with Vietnam
Robin J. Lewis, Associate Dean, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
John McAuliff, Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Betsy Headrick McCrae, Program Director for East Asia, Mennonite Central Committee
John L. McCullough, Executive Director, Church World Service and Witness
Charles Meadows, Managing Director, Peace Trees Vietnam
Daniel Pellegrom, President, Pathfinder International
Steven Sherlock, Director, Aid to Southeast Asia
Anne D. Shirk, Executive Director, International Voluntary Services
Jeffrey Alan Smith, President, Bridge to Asia
Mark Stewart, Executive Director, East Meets West Foundation
Miriam A. Young, Executive Director, Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace

For further information, contact:
Fund for Reconciliation and Development, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 727
New York, NY 10115
phone 212-367-4220; fax 212-367-4366
e-mail usindo@igc.org



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