Ambassador Kritenbrink Remarks: U.S. – Vietnam Business Summit

Monday, September 10, 2018
Sheraton Hotel Hanoi Ballroom

Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng, Mr. Under Secretary, Ambassador Phạm Quang Vinh, Good morning.

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests, it is great to be with you.
Thank you, Michael, for the kind introduction.

Thanks to Adam at the AmCham Hanoi, John Goyer from U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Vũ Tiến Lộc of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry for having me here and hosting this important U.S.-Vietnam Business Forum. I am also glad to see Ambassador Phạm Quang Vinh, recently returned from his years of service in Washington D.C. And of course, the many American business leaders here today. I know that many of you flew in from elsewhere in the region to be with us and we appreciate your commitment. We recognize the important role the Vietnam market plays in your business and you are at the front line on many of the issues that will be addressed later this morning and this afternoon.

I am pleased that Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng, and U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade, Gilbert Kaplan will both speak at this event. The high-level participation from both the U.S. and Vietnamese Governments illustrate the importance of this Summit and the strength of the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relationship.

When I was back in Washington, DC, I had an opportunity to brief Under Secretary Kaplan about the importance of the U.S. trade relationship with Vietnam and the pivotal time that we find ourselves in for U.S.-Vietnam relations. We are poised to expand and enhance our partnership even further. I encouraged Under Secretary Kaplan to come to Vietnam to witness first-hand the vibrancy of U.S.-Vietnam relations and the untapped potential that Vietnam offers. He willingly agreed on the spot and I am so happy that he is here.

While I am enthusiastic about the opportunities here, I also acknowledge that there is work to be done. The companies gathered here today are acutely aware of the challenges to fostering closer trade ties between our two nations. That said, we will not let those challenges prevent us from achieving our shared vision of enhanced commercial relations. The U.S. mission here in Vietnam will work with the companies gathered here today and the Government of Vietnam to overcome these challenges to bring our two countries closer together.

Our mission at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate is for the United States to be a vital partner in supporting the development of a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam that contributes to international security, engages in free, fair, and reciprocal trade, and respects human rights and the rule of law. One that will not only benefit the people of Vietnam and the United States, but also the people of the Indo-Pacific. Speaking of the that, you also have likely heard about our administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region. I know that as business executives, you are interested in the practical realities of what it means to have a free and open Indo-Pacific. To quote Secretary Pompeo, economically, free and open “means fair and reciprocal trade, open investment environments, transparent agreements between nations, and improved connectivity to drive regional ties.”

The U.S. and Vietnam are at a high-water mark in our relationship. Public favorability ratings of America top the global charts at over 90 percent. The Vietnamese public views the United States even more favorably than Americans view the United States. That really is remarkable. This positive sentiment fuels Vietnam’s desire for American-made goods and the nearly 30,000 Vietnamese students studying in the United States every year. But the positive views towards America is perhaps best represented by the outpouring of support and condolences when we lost Senator McCain. Senator McCain helped lead the way in normalizing U.S.-Vietnam relations, thereby ensuring a brighter future for the American and Vietnamese peoples and enabling the partnership that our two countries enjoy today. The public reaction to his passing was truly heartwarming.

Since we normalized trade relations in 2001, total trade between our two countries has grown over 3,000 percent and we want to see that number go even higher. However, we must work together to ensure that there is fair and reciprocal growth.

In that vein, we would like to see Vietnam procure more U.S. goods and services. We think there are tremendous opportunities in the areas of aviation, energy, healthcare, and smart cities. And, there are great reasons for Vietnam to put their trust in American businesses. U.S. companies offer some of the best, most-cutting edge technology, and are responsible and reliable investors. How do I know this?

I know this because I have heard you tell me that you have invested here not for simple convenience or cost savings, but for the long-term, for the market, and the relationships you are building.

I know this because I have helped the AmCham recognize you for your local Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

And I know this because I have handed out scholarships, funded by you, to help the best and brightest Vietnamese students travel to American universities for their education – with the goal that they will one day return and become Vietnam’s business leaders tomorrow.

So in closing, I ask that you stay engaged and remain optimistic. Engage with the government authorities, engage with the AmCham and with us at the Embassy and Consulate. Working together, we can resolve the challenges and put you in the best position to succeed in Vietnam. Have a great day!