Vietnam, US relationship in the next two decades

Over the past 20 years of relations normalization, Vietnam and the US have set aside the past, looked toward the future, and become comprehensive partners. The last two decades were the solid foundation for a new relationship between the two nations.

Since normalizing relations on July 12, 1995, Vietnam and the US have worked to build trust, remove skepticism, and enhance cooperation. From former foes, Vietnam and the US have become partners and expanded their relations in all sectors – politics, diplomacy, trade, economics, and national defense and security.

Building trust

Vietnam and the US went through a difficult period before reaching the current détente. At a conference in Hanoi on January 26, themed “Vietnam-US relationship for 20 more successful years”, Vietnam’s first Ambassador to the US Le Van Bang recalled the huge difficulties that marked that time.

Former US Ambassador to Vietnam Peter Peterson reviewed the challenges he faced 2 years after Vietnam-US relations were normalized.

“The most difficulty was to get the leadership of Vietnam to recognize that I was trustworthy and what I said was what I thought. That was deep respect for Vietnamese people and a very strong desire to make Vietnam and America good friends in the future. I’m very proud of that have happened under very difficult circumstances to achieve the relationship that I think probably admired throughout the world.” said Peter Peterson.

Generations of Vietnamese and US diplomats have contributed to reconciliation between the two countries. Their improved relations are also due to the efforts of millions of people over the past 2 decades.

Multifaceted cooperation

Vietnam-US relations have broadened in several fields. After the signing of the Vietnam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2001, economic and trade ties began to see positive signs and were flourishing two years later. The US has become Vietnam’s top export market.

Two way trade increased from US$1.5 billion to US$20 billion in the decade from 2001 to 2011 and to US$35 billion by 2014.

Murray Hiebert of the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) talked about the prospects for economic and trade cooperation.

Hiebert said, “The US is now the No.1 trading partner of Vietnam. I think as we move toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that Vietnam and the US are members, we’ll have the opportunities for increasing cooperation between Vietnam and the US, bringing more investment, creating more jobs, and seeing more Vietnamese goods in the US.”

Vietnam and the US share common views on regional peace, stability, and development. Delegates to the conference said that given the impressive results of the past 2 decades, it’s time to elevate bilateral ties to a new level. US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said, “I think what really important is the content of our partnership, not its name. The leadership of Vietnam and the US are both ambitious about this partnership, ambitious to make it substantive, join, and engage in activities together. It’s more important than the name.”

Despite differences in politics, socio-economic development levels, and historical issues, Vietnam and the US have striven to reinforce trust. Former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Cuong said, “Two nations always have differences. The Vietnam-US relation is no exception. We have regularly talked about differences in democracy and human rights. The best solution is to engage in dialogue to enhance mutual understanding and narrow the differences.”

After 20 years of normalized relations, it is time for Vietnam and the US to close the past, look to the future, and deepen their cooperative relations.


Vietnam, US relationship