The first Vietnam - US Foreign Ministerial Dialogue is key to achieving ambitious agenda: US Ambassador Marc Knapper

WVR - In an interview with the World&Vietnam Report, US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper highly appreciated the importance of the first Vietnam-US Foreign Ministerial Dialogue in promoting the implementation of the goals set out in the Joint Statement of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in September 2023.
The US Ambassador
FM Bui Thanh Son, State Secretary Antony Blinken co-chair Vietnam - US Foreign Ministerial Dialogue: Overview of the meeting. (Photo: WVR)

What are your comments on the significance of the first Vietnam-US Foreign Ministerial Dialogue to our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership?

The upgrade of relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the inaugural Foreign Ministerial are significant milestones in our bilateral relationship. On the margins of President Biden’s historic visit in September 2023, Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Son met over egg coffee and discussed our shared goal of a strong, independent, prosperous, and resilient Vietnam that bolsters regional prosperity and security.

The US Ambassador
The US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper. (Photo: Minh Quan)

Six months later they met in Washington to review the significant progress. Our countries have been working together to support education and training for the innovation economy, enhance our diplomatic and people-to-people ties including through engagement between political parties, legislatures, and cultural institutions.

We are also expanding business-to-business networks, deepening our discussions on human rights, continuing our work to address legacies of war, and coordinating on regional and multilateral issues. As I’ve always said, if it’s worth doing, the United States and Vietnam are working together on it.

What are your expectations of the Dialogue to create breakthroughs in bilateral cooperations in the coming time?

These discussions at the ministerial level are key to ensuring that we can achieve the ambitious agenda both sides have set for themselves, especially as we head into an important anniversary year for the United States and Vietnam in 2025.

We have leveraged the momentum of the upgrade and completed a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Training to promote cooperation with U.S. educational institutions, a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on sustainable agricultural practices, held the Asia Pacific Dialogue and TIFA Council; agreed to establish an Economic Dialogue; and dedicated programs to promote workforce development and STEM.

Discussions are not only focused on how further progress on key issues can be made but also on identifying and addressing any obstacles that could slow down the incredible momentum in the bilateral relationship. We are committed to delivering on what our two leaders set forth in the Joint Statement.

The US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) business delegation with 50 businesses recently had a successful visit to Vietnam. Could you please share some highlights and results achieved from this event?

Last week Vietnam hosted a U.S.- ASEAN Business Council (USABC) delegation, the first since the CSP and the largest in the USABC’s 40-year history. More than 50 American companies operating in multiple fields such as digital technology, energy, aerospace, defense, manufacturing, food and agriculture, financial services, healthcare, investment funds, among others sought sales, sourcing, and investment opportunities in Vietnam. They met with the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the National Assembly, and several key ministries to signal their interest in Vietnam and share best practices or recommendations to strengthen Vietnam’s competitiveness in the region.

The US Ambassador
More than 50 American companies operating in multiple fields sought sales, sourcing, and investment opportunities in Vietnam. (Source: WVR)

We welcome the U.S. business community’s interest in fostering business-to-business and business-to-government engagement to build on the momentum of the CSP. Last week’s Vietnam Business Forum provided another opportunity for similar discussions. Another exciting outcome of last week was a $500 million MOU between the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) and Vietnam Development Bank (VDB), for financing of U.S. exports in areas for potential cooperation, including infrastructure development, green economy initiatives, and energy security -related projects.

We see this as another opportunity for American and Vietnamese companies to partner and bring significant value through technology transfer, innovation, and investment; leading to more jobs on both sides and key to helping Vietnam achieve some of its energy security goals including net zero emissions by 2050. As we prepare for the SelectUSA Summit in Washington, DC this June, we see so many opportunities to build on and expand two-way trade in ways that advance our goals for shared prosperity.

Technology is an important field of cooperation for which the two countries are aiming in the coming time. What are your assessments of the readiness of the Vietnamese Government and businesses to create breakthroughs in this field as well as in cooperation with the US?

One of the most important elements of the upgrade to CSP was the U.S. commitment to supporting Vietnam as it grows its role in high-tech industries. The U.S. business community, as evidenced by multiple visits by the Semiconductor Industry Association, also sees the many opportunities across Vietnam. To that end, let me highlight a few key points.

First, we support Vietnam in efforts to strengthen the semiconductor ecosystem and pending an OECD-review, will work with Vietnam to improve the enabling environment for more U.S. cooperation and investment including investment incentives, trade control management measures, IPR protection, workforce development and educational cooperation.

Second, we seek to expand collaborations with Vietnam in AI, 5G, cyber security, trusted networks, and fintech to support Vietnam’s goals for its economy. As part of Vietnam’s second International Digital Week in December, the State Department’s Cyberspace and Digital Policy Bureau hosted a regional workshop on secure and diverse ICT infrastructure connectivity in Ha Long, with over 130 government officials, regulators, telecommunications experts, and private sector representatives from 11 countries including the United States, Vietnam, partners from Southeast Asia, Japan, and the ROK to discuss 5G and next generation wireless networks, cloud and undersea cable infrastructure, supply chain diversity and resiliency, regulatory approaches, and infrastructure finance.

Finally, it’s key that regulatory and decision making be streamlined to ensure we can achieve the full potential of this opportunity. Just last week, USABC delegation members highlighted just how critical international best practices are for data privacy, cross-border data flows, and needing clean, reliable, renewable energy to effectively attract these types of investments. We believe that through continued bilateral collaboration and public-private partnerships, Vietnam can successfully compete against other countries that also want to attract high-tech industries and high-tech jobs. Global industries are moving fast. We need to continue to work hard every day to make sure we achieve the goals laid out in the Joint Statement in September even faster.

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