Vietnam-US relations have reaped various important achievements since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties 25 years ago, across all fields of politics, diplomacy, trade, investment, science-technology, security-national defence, education-training, culture and people-to-people exchange.
Of them, cooperation in economy-trade-investment has become a focus and driving force for the development of the bilateral ties, with two-way trade surging 170 times to 77.6 billion USD last year from just 450 million USD in 1995.
The US is currently Vietnam’s largest export market while Vietnam is the one posting the highest export growth among the US’s partners in Southeast Asia.
Regarding investment, with strategic location, stable macro-economy, better living quality and dynamic labour forces, Vietnam has attracted the attention of the world’s major firms, especially US companies with big names like IBM, Qualcomm and Coca-Cola, among others.
With recently-reached trade agreements, notably the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam FTA, the Vietnamese economy is expected to expand considerably in the future.
It is also hoped to create a strong push to the bilateral economic-trade-investment in the future, particularly in digital transformation and advanced technology.
Changes in quality of Vietnam-US relations
Vietnam and the US officially set up diplomatic ties in July 1995, paving the way for bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Minister Counsellor Bui Huy Son, head of the Vietnam Trade Office in the US, emphasised that Vietnam-US ties in the past 25 years have seen considerable progress and the two nations have become important trade partners, with breakthroughs in bilateral trade.
Diversifying export items
In the first five-year period after the establishment of the relations, bilateral trade turnover increased more than two-fold to 1.09 billion USD from 450 million USD.
July 2000 saw another milestone in Washington D.C., as the US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) was signed, taking effect in December 2001.
Son recalled that following the signing of the BTA, there was a major change in Vietnam’s exports to the US. Aside from garment-textile and footwear, which already affirmed their position in the market, agro-forestry-fishery products, and most recently electronic components and wooden products, made them onto the list of key export items.
Statistics showed that last year, five groups of products enjoying the largest export turnover to the US included garment-textile, accounting for 24 percent of total shipments, with footwear (11 percent), mobile phones and components (15 percent), computers and electronic products (10 percent) and wooden products (9 percent).
“The US is the largest export market of Vietnam, so Vietnam’s staples are present in the US market with a large volume,” Son said.
Garment-textile and footwear affirm “made in Vietnam” reputation
After renewal, the two sectors have turned into a driving force for the Vietnamese economy, playing a significant role in export orientation. Meanwhile, the US tops the list of consumers of Vietnamese garment and footwear products.
Figures showed that Vietnam’s garment-textile exports to the US hit nearly 15 billion USD in 2019, equivalent to 45 percent of the country’s total export turnover.
Though COVID-19 wreaked havoc in various countries across the world in recent months, Vietnam remained the top garment-textile exporter to the country, raking in 4.84 billion USD.
Footwear is also a major export of Vietnam to the US, as export value reached 6.65 billion USD last year, a rise of 14.2 percent from 2018.
A representative of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso) said that despite a decline in consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, footwear exports in the first five months of 2020 to the US reached more than 2.43 billion USD, accounting for 36.3 percent of Vietnam’s footwear export turnover.
Of note, on May 28-30, some 60 footwear importers of the US joined an online trade session with Vietnamese firms to update information on the US market amid COVID-19 and assess future prospects and coping measures, as well as set up partnerships.
Data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, in the first four months of 2020, two-way trade hit 24.9 billion USD.
Vietnam earned 20.16 billion USD from export to the American market and imported machines, devices, materials, farm produce, fruit and meat worth 4.76 billion USD in the period./.