Viewing cable 04HANOI636

04HANOI6362004-03-02 10:24:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Hanoi
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
¶1. (U) Summary: On February 27, Congressman Mac Collins (R- 
GA) met with Vietnam's Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen 
to discuss bilateral trade relations.  Collins emphasized 
that bilateral cooperation on trade is closely linked to 
cooperation in other areas such as MIA issues.  Tuyen 
emphasized the GVN's commitment to developing a 
"multifaceted" relationship with the U.S. and opined that 
relations between the two countries had grown more positive 
and constructive in the two years since entry-into-force of 
the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement (BTA) in December 
¶2001.   End summary. 
¶2. (U) Congressman Mac Collins of Georgia met on February 27 
with Vietnamese Minister of Trade Tuyen to discuss bilateral 
trade relations.  The Ambassador; Grant Bassett, from 
Collins' personal staff; Col Randy O'Boyle, U.S. Air Force 
Legislative Affairs; Garnett "Bill" Bell, also from Collins' 
staff, accompanied Congressman Collins, along with 
Navy/Marine Attache and econoff (notetaker). 
¶3. (U) Minister Tuyen welcomed Congressman Collins, noting 
his belief that exchanging visits helps increase the two 
countries' mutual understanding.  Tuyen noted that his own 
visit to the U.S. (in September 2003) had given him new 
perspective on the relationship.  Collins responded that 
this was his second visit to Vietnam in the last six months, 
but the first opportunity he had to travel outside Hanoi. 
During his trips to and from the airport as well as his 
visit to Danang and the surrounding countryside he saw 
evidence of a lot of change occurring in Vietnam.  Collins 
said that that the new industrial parks and manufacturing 
sites he had seen must be helpful to the GVN because they 
indicate an increase in jobs.  "Jobs" are a big part of the 
political discussion in the U.S. these days, he added. 
Vietnam's Economic Reforms 
¶4. (U) Minister Tuyen described the three main components of 
Vietnam's economic reform process:  1) policy restructuring, 
(i.e. GVN administrative reform and the transition to a 
market-oriented economy); 2) restructuring industry to 
increase Vietnam's competitiveness (including "equitization" 
of state-owned enterprises and private sector development); 
and 3) international economic integration (with an emphasis 
on the key roles of the EU, U.S., Japan and China).  Tuyen 
noted that although both the GVN and the Vietnamese people 
are willing to reform, large obstacles remain.  Vietnam's 
transition has been going on for only ten years, but other 
countries like the U.S. have been developing for hundreds of 
years and have "everything in order."  The GVN has achieved 
some success however, and the leadership remains committed 
to the path it has chosen. 
MOT Views on the Bilateral Relationship 
¶5. (U) Tuyen then outlined his views on the U.S.-Vietnam 
bilateral relationship.  Since normalization, and 
particularly since the signing of the BTA, he said, the 
bilateral relationship has grown increasingly positive and 
constructive. The GVN views the U.S. as an important trading 
partner, but GVN policy also clearly favors  developing a 
multifaceted relationship.  Last year many high-ranking GVN 
officials visited the U.S., including the Minister of 
Defense and many National Assembly members.  The Minister 
also noted that he had met with many U.S. Congressmen in 
Vietnam last year and had the opportunity to meet former 
President Bush several years ago.  The GVN and the 
Vietnamese people "hope, expect, want" relations with the 
U.S., Tuyen added.  However, sensitivities remain on both 
sides and the two countries need to make sure that 
"diplomatic" policies do not create impediments to the 
further development of the relationship. 
Powerful Legislators on Both Sides 
¶6. (U) U.S. policies do sometimes create problems for 
Vietnam, Tuyen continued.  It has been just two years since 
entry-into-force of the BTA and there have already been two 
dumping cases filed against Vietnam.  The current 
antidumping case on shrimp could have a more negative impact 
on Vietnam (than the frozen fish fillet dumping case 
concluded last year) because it involves millions of 
laborers.  These laborers do not understand claims of 
dumping, Tuyen asserted; they do, however, still recall 
historical events.  Minister Tuyen asked Collins to "have a 
positive voice in the dumping case."  President Bush and 
Secretary of Commerce Evans are afraid of the Congress; we 
are in the same position in Vietnam, under the watchful eye 
of the National Assembly.  Previously members of the CPV 
were not afraid of the National Assembly, Tuyen declared. 
Now, however the National Assembly is more powerful, which 
is good for Vietnam because the National Assembly represents 
the people. 
Vietnam Should Import More from the U.S. 
¶7. (U) The BTA set demanding requirements for Vietnam.  The 
U.S. has never signed such a comprehensive bilateral trade 
agreement and the high criteria and standards are difficult 
for Vietnam.  However, two years after entry-into-force of 
the BTA, the U.S. has become Vietnam's "leading trade 
partner."  In 2003 Vietnam exported about USD four billion 
worth of goods to the U.S. and imported about USD 1.5 
billion.  Tuyen said he expected the growth rate of 
Vietnamese exports to decline in 2004, but the growth rate 
of imports from the U.S. to increase.  Tuyen smiled and said 
he supports an increase in imports from the U.S.  Even 
though Vietnam already has a trade deficit, this is due to 
imports from other countries, not the U.S.  Vietnam's demand 
for imports of high technology goods from the U.S. is 
growing, especially since the signing of the bilateral Air 
Services Agreement (in December 2003).  In 2004 Vietnam will 
need additional aircraft and machinery.  There is good 
potential for import growth, Tuyen added and reiterated that 
he strongly supports that trend. 
Vietnam needs Sympathy and Support for WTO Accession 
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¶8. (U) Tuyen affirmed that Vietnam is working tirelessly in 
preparation for the next working party on Vietnam's 
accession to the WTO and expects to make progress during the 
next round.  The GVN is willing and determined to integrate, 
but that is not enough, Tuyen said.  Vietnam needs the 
"sympathy and support" of its trade partners.  The GVN knows 
the U.S. voice in this process is very important.  Vietnam 
is a developing country with more than eighty percent of its 
population engaged in small-scale farming.  Even with 
multiple planting seasons, it is very hard for Vietnam's 
farmers to get by.  Tuyen expressed hope that the U.S. would 
not allow the WTO to impose criteria and standards on 
Vietnam that it cannot meet.  Tuyen also asked that the U.S. 
support extending special and differential treatment to 
Vietnam, given its low level of development.  In response, 
Collins advised Tuyen that as Vietnam proceeds through the 
WTO process, it should follow the rules closely including on 
such issues as licensing, permitting, and taxation. 
It's All About Jobs 
¶9. (U) Collins emphasized that the U.S. is facing difficult 
times itself.  While the U.S. is not isolationist, Americans 
are worried about jobs.  In the bilateral textile agreement 
signed last year, Vietnam got a significant textile quota 
for export to the U.S.  Many U.S. workers feel this came at 
the expense of their jobs.  Minister Tuyen responded that 
the GVN recognizes that Vietnam's textile exports to the 
U.S. increased after entry-into-force of the BTA, but the 
GVN believes the volumes are still modest.  At the same 
time, the capacity of Vietnam's textile industry is huge and 
the quota given to Vietnam is limited.  Additionally, 
importing textiles from Vietnam helps the U.S. diversify its 
outsourcing and reduce its dependence on Chinese textile 
exports.  Congressman Collins noted that the two sides could 
debate the issue at length, but that ultimately the "real 
debate is among the candidates in the U.S. and protectionism 
is a real subject." 
What About Autos and Motorcycles? 
¶10. (U) Collins then questioned Minister Tuyen's claim that 
he wants Vietnam to import more from the U.S.  Collins noted 
that Vietnam had imposed special taxes on auto manufacturers 
and denied Harley Davidson the right to export to Vietnam. 
These acts cast doubts on the Minister's sincerity, Collins 
All Issues are Connected 
¶11. (U) Collins then noted that his primary purpose in 
Vietnam was to discuss MIA issues with the GVN, but said he 
wanted to meet with Minister Tuyen because "all the issues 
in the legislative body have a tendency to come together." 
Unanswered questions on MIA issues increase concerns about 
trends in bilateral cooperation.  When there is a lack of 
cooperation in one area, Collins said, it casts doubt on 
future cooperation in other areas such as trade.  Minister 
Tuyen responded that the GVN sees the MIA issue as a 
humanitarian one and noted that the GVN has and will 
continue to be cooperative with the USG on this issue. 
"Vietnam truly understands the pain of families with MIA," 
Tuyen added.  Collins encouraged Tuyen to ensure the GVN 
addresses U.S. concerns in a "better and faster" manner than 
it has to date.  People in America who make up our workforce 
are tired of free trade -- they want fair trade.  Americans 
welcome trade but it must be an exchange of goods, not just 
an exchange of our currency for someone else's goods, 
Collins concluded. 
The Role of Domestic Politics 
¶12. (U) The Ambassador highlighted that Congressman Collins' 
visit to Vietnam provided Minister Tuyen with an opportunity 
to hear how important trade issues have become in American 
domestic politics this year.  The Administration has 
supported free trade, but if you listen to the debates going 
on now, you hear candidates criticize existing trade 
agreements.  It is an important year to deal with these 
issues seriously and carefully so as not to provide any 
arguments for protectionism, the Ambassador added. 
13.(U) Congressman Collins did not have an opportunity to 
clear this report.