Vietnam pushes for fresh bilateral trade deal with US

The remaining 11 members of the Trans Pacific Partnership aim to reach agreement on whether to move ahead with the trade pact without the US when they meet on March 14-15 in Chile.

Vietnam Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh said on March 7 that trade officials from the remaining TPP countries plan to hold the two-day meeting in Chile to discuss the future of the trade agreement now that President Trump has withdrawn the US from the deal.

The outcome of those discussions is not clear, Ambassador Pham told a program sponsored by the Asia Society’s Policy Institute. 

But he said the Vietnam government believes it would be a mistake to allow the TPP to die – regardless of whether it continues as a regional agreement or becomes a template that is used in future free trade agreements in other parts of the globe.

If the decision is made to forge ahead with the TPP, the next question would be whether to take on new members, said the Ambassador.

He also unveiled that trade representatives from the Republic of Korea are planning to attend the meeting in Chile although it is not a current TPP member. 

The government of the ROK had intended to join the TPP once it came into force and was ready to accept additional members, ROK Ambassador to the US Ahn Ho-Young told the gathering.  That was the ROK ‘Plan A.’ 

Now the ROK is looking at its ‘Plan B’ – joining the TPP if the remaining members make the decision to move ahead. 

He endorsed the recommendations of a new Asia Society report that the 11 remaining TPP members continue to implement the accord without the US and open membership to more countries.

President Trump has said he wants to negotiate fresh bilateral trade agreements with the TPP countries that are not already participating in a free trade agreement with the US. 

But the Vietnam government has so far not received any such overtures from the Trump administration, noted Mr Pham. 

However, the Vietnam government would be highly receptive to any trade proposals from the US that move in the direction of opening new bilateral trade agreement negotiations, he added.


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