US needs sound Vietnam WTO accord to win business support

Nov 21 | Updated: Nov 22 2005, 05:30am hrs
The US said it wants to reach an accord on Vietnams World Trade Organisation accession that wins corporate support to buoy the chances Congress would vote to give Vietnam permanent normal trade relations.

Vietnam still has conditional normal trade relations with the US that must be renewed annually. WTO members are generally obliged to give unconditional most-favored-nation treatment to each others goods, the US-Vietnam Trade Council says.

With respect to Vietnams WTO accession, Congress will need to pass permanent normal trade relations legislation as well, US deputy commerce secretary David Sampson said during a Nov 18 visit to a Ford Motor Co. plant in the northern Vietnamese province of Hai Duong.

Its very important that we reach an agreement between the US and Vietnam thats based on very sound commercial terms, so we will have the support of the US business community with the Congress in passing the necessary legislation, Sampson said, according to a tape of his remarks confirmed on Monday by the US embassy in Hanoi.

The US must either grant permanent normal trade relations status when Vietnam joins the WTO or invoke a clause permitting Vietnam to withhold from the US the benefits of WTO commitments that have been granted to other members, according to the US- There are significant US companies interested in investing in the telecom sector here, Sampson said.

-Bloomberg