Speech by Ambassador Ted Osius at the U.S. -ASEAN Business Council Reception

Hotel L’Opera
Monday, Mar 6, 6:30 pm

Thank you to the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council for inviting me to address you this evening. Chào tất cả quý vị!

Thưa Bộ trưởng Bộ Nông nghiệp và Phát triển nông thôn Nguyễn Xuân Cường,
Chủ tịch Ủy ban Nhân dân Thành phố Hà Nội Nguyễn Đức Chung,
Thưa tất cả quý vị,

Cảm ơn quý vị đã tới tham dự sự kiện này.  Nông nghiệp là một trong những lĩnh vực nổi bật trong quan hệ thương mại của chúng ta.  Tôi biết rằng tại đây tối nay cũng có mặt đại diện nhiều công ty hỗ trợ lĩnh vực này.

It is also great to see Ambassador Michalak with us this evening. He has long been a champion of US-Vietnam relations and you could not have a better person helping lead USABC’s efforts from the region.
It is an honor again to welcome USABC’s Senior Executive Business Mission to Vietnam and to speak with all of you.

The companies in this year’s mission are not only some of the finest of America’s private sector, but more importantly, represent firms that understand the importance of our commercial engagement with Asia.
In the more than two years I have had the honor of serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, I can think of no other market in Asia that has demonstrated such dynamic growth in trade and investment opportunities as Vietnam, and I am very happy that you are all here to see this first hand.

About a year ago we saw a change in Vietnam’s government leadership, and at that time I noted that, irrespective of politics, the fundamental interests of the United States in Vietnam remain steadfast.
In January, the United States also witnessed a change in government, and my view has not wavered. American interests and Vietnamese interests are closely aligned, and that has not changed. It remains in our mutual interest to collaborate on issues of regional security.  The lifting of the lethal weapons sales ban was an important symbol of our intention to work with Vietnam to help support its security and independence. It remains in our mutual interest to protect the environment that we all share.

Vietnam is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and so its interest in taking steps to adapt to those effects is clear. But the United States also maintains an abiding interest, because a Vietnam that is developing sustainably is a country that will be a good partner in promoting economic growth and regional stability. But chief among our mutual interests is creating sustainable economic growth in Vietnam and the region by expanding trade and investment.

I know that many of you here tonight have been strong advocates of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as have I, because of its potential to promote economic growth here in Vietnam. But even in the absence of TPP, we are not giving up on pursuing our positive trade agenda within the region. In fact, it is just the opposite. The values embedded in TPP – a rules-based approach to economic relations, higher standards on labor and the environment, safeguards against corruption – are all consistent with the demands of the Vietnamese people and the economic interests of the United States. And with the help of the members of this Business Council, we will continue our advocacy of these values.

We are linked to our partners around the Pacific by enduring networks of commerce, diplomacy, education, communication, and family ties. In APEC particularly, we have a forum to build powerful consensus among our partners to break down barriers to trade by promoting a rules-based regional architecture that supports free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, and further strengthen the ties that already bind us together.

This year – 2017 – Vietnam hosts APEC. This presents a tremendous opportunity to further advocate for American interests with Vietnam’s leaders. Vietnam knows it is in the spotlight. And as Vietnam takes on a larger role in regional policy discussions, it will seek opportunities to collaborate with the people in this room to show other APEC economies that Vietnam is an important player in the region. Vietnam has set an ambitious agenda for its host year, and the United States fully supports its priorities.

We are both determined to increase regional economic integration and foster a more business-friendly environment through a rules-based architecture. We both want to ensure that economic growth is sustainable and inclusive. And we are both committed to strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises. We are also both committed to improving this country’s infrastructure.

The U.S. mission has recently launched four industry groups in key sectors that focus on helping U.S. companies in key industries expand business opportunities for rebuilding Vietnam’s infrastructure. American companies report to us that they are experiencing double digit growth in the aviation, energy, healthcare, and ICT sectors. Those sectors are all dominated by Vietnamese government actors, and I am committed to advocating on your behalf in those and other sectors, including food and agriculture, where we’re also seeing strong trade growth, along with some thorny irritants.

I wish you success in your meetings over the next several days, and I look forward to working with all of you throughout Vietnam’s APEC Chair year and beyond.

Cảm ơn tất cả quý vị!