Thank you, Ngoc Anh, for your kind introduction and thanks to AmCham for organizing this wonderful event.
Deputy Prime Minister Phạm Bình Minh, Adam, Gaurav, the AmCham board of governors, distinguished guests, it is my pleasure to be here tonight. And tonight is especially memorable because of the fantastic music by our visiting friends from Memphis, Tennessee.
Please join me in giving Elmo, Hope, and Domingo a round of applause.
We are here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of relations between the United States and Vietnam, and to highlight the invaluable contribution that the U.S. business community has made to this relationship.
The U.S.-Vietnam economic relationship forms the bedrock of our larger bilateral relationship, and as our business and investment ties have grown, so has our political and diplomatic cooperation.
As many of you know, back in 1996 I was a young Political Officer at our Embassy here in Hanoi.
At that time, I had high hopes for the future of our relationship and believed we would achieve great things by working together.
But I never imagined that a mere nineteen years later we would be where we are today. Of course, I also never imagined that we would still be in the same Embassy building on Lang Ha St., but that is another story.
Over the last nineteen years, our trade relationship has grown from almost nothing to over $35 billion dollars in 2014, and could possibly reach $40 billion this year. U.S. companies have invested billions here, integrating Vietnam into the global supply chain, creating quality jobs for Vietnamese workers, and opening a new market for U.S. goods and services.
And right now, we are nearing the conclusion of the historic Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which will have a transformative effect on Vietnam’s business environment and create new opportunities for American investment and exports.
This growth in our economic relationship has paved the way for us to cooperate in many other areas, like education and people to people exchanges; cooperation in the fields of the environment, science, and health; enhanced security cooperation in areas like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; and a growing number of high level visits between our two countries.
And today we are now exploring opportunities to work together on regional and global issues in ways that were unimaginable back in 1996.
This level of engagement and cooperation would not be possible without a strong economic foundation, which is to say it would not be possible without the work of people like you, who have been building the economic relationship for years, and in some cases, for decades.
We in the Embassy and in Washington, D.C. thank you for opening new doors, building new bridges, and being the glue that binds our relationship together.
One other thing I’d like to point out is that when U.S. companies invest and operate in Vietnam, they bring much more than just capital, world class management systems and training, and advanced technology.
American investment also brings Corporate Social Responsibility.
The companies in this room are investing their time and money to build schools, protect the environment, and contribute to the health of the communities in which they work.
Every day, U.S. companies are contributing to education and training programs in Vietnam, either by donating computer equipment and software to schools, or by sending company representatives to speak with Vietnamese students.
And they participate in the AmCham Scholarship Program, which rewards talented university students like Ngoc Anh, who introduced me tonight.
In a few minutes you’ll be hearing from a few more AmCham Scholars who now work at your companies, and then we will start the live auction to raise money in support of the AmCham Scholarship Program.
Let me close by saying that as we celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations, let’s also take a moment to imagine what is possible in the next twenty years. If we have come this far this quickly, what might we achieve by 2035?
Thank you all for your support and cooperation over the last 20 years. I look forward to continuing to work closely with you as we push this relationship to new heights over the next 20 years.