Monday, November 05, 2007

US Commerce Secretary Visits Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Monday morning as he began a three-day visit to expand economic ties between the two countries.

"The people and the government of Vietnam are very delighted with the fine cooperation between the United States and Vietnam," Dung said, welcoming Gutierrez at the prime minister's office.

"I believe that your visit will help further strengthen the development of relations between our countries, particularly in trade and investment," Dung said.

Gutierrez and a delegation of U.S. trade officials and business leaders were to meet with President Nguyen Minh Triet at the presidential palace later Monday morning.

They were also scheduled to meet with Vietnamese and U.S. businessmen in Hanoi and the southern business hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

Gutierrez was accompanied by representatives from 23 American companies, including Dow Chemical Co., Ford Motor Co., 3M Co., Alcoa Inc., and Northwest Airlines Corp.

The visit was the first Cabinet-led U.S. business mission to Vietnam since the communist country was admitted to the World Trade Organization earlier this year.

Vietnam is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and the U.S. delegation hopes this week's business development mission will expand the market share of American companies in the country, which fought the U.S. in a war that ended in 1975.

Two-way trade between the United States and Vietnam grew from $1.5 billion in 2001 — when the two signed a bilateral trade agreement — to $9.7 billion last year.