Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vietnam-US trade to reach $15 Billion-US Ambassador

VietNamNet Bridge - U.S. Ambassador Michael Marine spoke with reporters yesterday about trade between Viet Nam and the United States.

What are the factors that spur the trade here, bilateral trade, this year, and what will they be in the coming years?

The first and probably most important spur to the bilateral trade was the bilateral trade agreement that we reached back in 2001.

That created the framework for our two economies to begin to mesh and since then, we’ve been building year on year at a rate of over 20, 25 percent increase. Vietnamese goods going to the United States are growing at a faster rate than American goods coming this way.

I’d hope to see our service sectors in Viet Nam such as banking, insurance, money management and others grow in the years ahead. We need to be aiming at US$15 billion at the soonest.

Could you tell us about education cooperation programs between the U.S. and Viet Nam?

In general what I see are, first of all, Vietnam is facing a crisis in your education sector. Again this is a potential choke point that would hurt your growth if you can’t get your young people trained properly for the jobs of the 21st century.

American firms provide a wide range of educational opportunities for the young people of Viet Nam, from vocational training, English language training, computer training, on up to a master’s in business administration through a partnership, a joint venture with a Vietnamese university or college.

These are not people coming here simply to help Vietnam; they’re also coming to help themselves. This is a business for them and they need to be able to set up shop on a commercial basis.

The Vietnam Education Foundation and the Fulbright Program provide opportunities for Vietnamese scholars and students to go to the United States.

As the economy rises, people will have more money to send their children to be educated in the United States and the current number of 4,500 young Vietnamese people is going to mushroom, is going to grow.

In your new position, what will you do to continue to contribute to Viet Nam-U.S. relations?

I’m going to be retiring after 32 years as a diplomat, which means that I need to choose a new career. I will consider what I want to do next and probably make a decision by January; that’s my plan.

Now frankly, I have become quite fascinated by what’s happening in Viet Nam and I don’t think I will walk away from it and not continue to follow the developments here.