US Ambassador to Vietnam Worried about Vietnam’s Market Access

Diep Nguyen

According to the US Ambassador to Vietnam, there are challenges, mostly market access issue, lack of transparency and problems in decision making.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Worried about Vietnam’s Market Access
Daniel J. Kritenbrink, the US ambassador in Vietnam
On November 4, 2019, The U.S. Trade and Development Agency welcomes 1,000 businesses and government leaders to attend The Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF), which will occur during the East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. 
The nearly 200 US business executives in attendance represented some of the world’s most innovative, influential and trustworthy companies with the collective annual revenue of over $2.8 trillion. 
On the sidelines of Indo-Pacific Business Forum, Bizlive held the interview with Daniel J. Kritenbrink, the US ambassador to Vietnam about the business challenges of Vietnam’s business environment. 
Recently, Vietnam moves up the ladder in terms of business environment. Vietnam recently moves up the ladder in terms of business environment, what is your comment on Vietnam’s business environment, is that really improving and what are the areas that Vietnam needs to improve to have better business environment?
I’m really honored here at the Indo – Pacific business forum, it is really exciting event designed to showcase American commitments to the Indo – Pacific region and of course to Vietnam as well. 
There are more than thousands of representatives today, representing for business community, American businesses, local governments and of course US government as well. When there are thousands of representatives today, I think that is tangible commitment of the United States and our businesses to the future of Indo – Pacific region. We have the companies operating in aviation, healthcare, etc.
We think Vietnam is one of the most important partners in the region. We are very excited that our trade volumn is growing very quickly, incredibly opportunities in many sectors in Vietnam like energy, aviation, healthcare. I do think American companies do think tremendous opportunities in Vietnam and that’s why they continue to invest in trade in Vietnam but of course there are many challenges as well. We have been actively engaged in working with the Vietnamese government in dealing with that. 
There are a few market access challenges, some barriers. We have seen a few in the agricultural sector, some in the digital commerce sector and some in the automobile sector. But what I would say is I am optimitic in solving those challenges.
We have been public about some of the parts in the cyber security law, which we do not think that will not strengthen cybersecurity in Vietnam but harms the operations of US companies in Vietnam. 
We are very clear in the President’s direction. We pursue free and fair trade with Vietnam and others. We are happy that the trade volumn is growing. When we started our relation 25 years ago, we barely had any trade. Today we have almost $ 60 billion. But we also have growing trade deficit, so that is one of the reasons why we want to make sure Vietnam address the market access challenges so that we can ensure free and fair trade.
What are the obstacles that American companies are facing when operating in Vietnam?
In order to do that, I need to give you a complete picture. From the company executives I talked to, they find Vietnamese market to be attractive, one of the world’s fastest economies in the world, young population with more than 60% of population under 30 years old, population has the positive views of US and the West, a very dedicated and dilligent workforce and increasingly well education population and that economic growth will continue for decades, and there will be a lot of infastructures that have to be built. 
But there are challenges, mostly market access issue, lack of transparency and problems in decision making. 
If the trade tension between US and China escalates, will there be the trend of moving investment from China to Vietnam and what Vietnam should do to best absorb that?
The President has been clear that we pursue free and fair trade. After negotiations with China, we have been able to solve many long standing trade practices that harm the operations of US companies in China. I m not in charge of those negotiations so I think it is not appropriate for me to comment. 
US and Vietnam can cooperate more in the fields of aviation, healthcare and energy. That is the market access that you have to fix. If we can do those things, I think we can manage anything else. That is the focus of talks between the two governments. I m optimistic that if we continue to engage we can manage. I’m not gonna speculate about the future. 
Thank you very much!


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