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US supports Vietnam’s WTO bid, works toward FTA

Vietnam News Agency

May 27, 2005

US supports Vietnam’s WTO bid, works toward FTA

The United States fully supports Vietnam’s efforts to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), said US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Marine at a press conference in Washington on May 25.

He also said that the next "logical step" following Vietnam’s accession to the WTO would be to open negotiations on a US-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The Washington press conference marked the conclusion of the US-ASEAN Business Council’s annual US ambassador tour, in which the US ambassadors to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam visit US cities to discuss regional issues with Americans.

For a better future

The US-ASEAN Business Council is a coalition of private corporations dedicated to effectively strengthening the bilateral and overall US-ASEAN relations.

Regarding regional trade issues, US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce said the goal is to create a network of FTAs with ASEAN countries.

"The US makes sure our free trade agreements are comprehensive," US Ambassador to Indonesia Lynn Pascoe said. "There has been a lot of preliminary work and discussion done on these issues and the trade process is something we see as very important and I think the [ASEAN] countries do, too."

The US currently has an FTA with Singapore and recently completed a fourth round of FTA talks with Thailand.

"US investment in Vietnam is US$2.6 billion, making the country the fifth largest investor in Vietnam," Marine said.

Intellectual property, bird flu

"Intellectual property rights (IPR) is a key economic issue across the region," US Ambassador to Singapore Frank Levin said, adding that the FTA is one of the most useful tools to improve IPR protection, as it links the counterpart country to enforcing intellectual property rights.

As for regional health issues, specifically avian influenza, Marine said, "the US is working with Vietnam’s officials and the World Health Organization to improve the technical ability of Vietnamese scientists, technicians working in the poultry industry, and health care workers to deal with the disease more effectively."

Boyce added the US Centers for Disease Control, and other US health agencies have co-operation agreements with the Thai Ministry of Public Health to work together on ways to combat the reoccurrence of avian influenza.

 source: Thanh Nien News