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US firms want to invest more in Vietnam: Assistant Secretary of State

Saturday, May 30, 2015, 11:46 GMT+7

American businesses want to increase their investment in Vietnam, a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State said Friday.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

While Charles Rivkin could not be sure when the U.S would become Vietnam’s largest investor, he can really feel the excitement of the American firms that are doing business in the country, he told reporters in Ho Chi Minh City.

Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Rivkin was on his first-ever trip to Vietnam between May 26 and 30, and the southern Vietnamese megacity was his second stop after Hanoi.

U.S. firms have hugely invested in Vietnam and they wanted to do even more, Rivkin said, attributing the excitement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the young, robust workforce in Vietnam.

Vietnam, the U.S. and ten other countries are approaching closer to conclude negotiations on the TPP after five years of talks.

Vietnam’s GDP could increase more than 30 percent after ten years participating the TPP, according to the Assistant Secretary of State.

In 1995 Vietnam and the U.S. reported a bilateral trade value of $450 million, but the figure is now approximately $40 billion.

The trade value will thus grow much further after the TPP, Rivkin said.

Also on Friday, the Assistant Secretary of State delivered remarks on entrepreneurship to participants of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, and another speech to University of Economics students commemorating the 20th anniversary of normalization of U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations.

Rivkin had “great time speaking with young entrepreneurs at the YSALI workshop in Vietnam,” he said on his verified Twitter account.

Rivkin’s Vietnam visit was intended to focus on strengthening economic ties as the foundation to the U.S. robust overall relationship with the Southeast Asian country, the U.S. Department of State said in a media note on Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary Rivkin has met with government officials, business leaders, and representatives from the private sector to discuss the accomplishments of the 20 years since the normalization of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship and ways forward for the two countries’ growing economic partnership, according to the note.

On Wednesday, the U.S. official participated in the launch of a public-private partnership between the Department of State and the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation to support “Helmets for Kids,” an inititative through which partners are advancing the common goal of promoting essential and life-saving road safety education for children throughout Vietnam.

“Road traffic crashes are #1 killer of young people in Vietnam. Today, we believe we can help turn those numbers around,” he said on Twitter the same day.

Rivkin began serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs on February 13, 2014, and was sworn in publicly by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on April 15, 2014, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Rivkin leads a bureau at the U.S. State Department that is responsible for managing trade negotiations, investment treaties, and international finance and development related issues.

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