|US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius speaks in an interview in Hanoi.
The new year is traditionally a time to look back on our accomplishments and look forward to the opportunities and challenges awaiting us. In that spirit, I would like to welcome the Year of the Rooster with some of my own thoughts about the year ahead.
I've witnessed tremendous progress in both the U.S.-Vietnam relationship and in Vietnam's own development over the past twenty years.
The United States is now Vietnam’s largest export market, and Vietnam is one of the fastest growing destinations for U.S. exports. Two-way trade grew over 300 percent in the past decade alone!
In 2016, we increased opportunities for travel and trade, we opened the door to increased cooperation on regional security, and we witnessed our leaders’ historic visits to each other’s nations. This shows that America’s interest in a strong partnership with Vietnam is more important than ever.
Sharing Vietnam’s goals
Vietnam’s goals of economic growth and global integration are goals we also share. Continuing to reform state-owned enterprises, creating space for small and medium-sized enterprises, protecting intellectual property, and fairly, transparently, and uniformly applying laws, labor standards, and environmental regulations will help encourage growth and U.S. investment.
Strong Vietnamese leadership of APEC 2017 will show the world that Vietnam is a reliable partner and a smart place to do business.
We fully support Vietnam’s priorities for APEC and look forward to jointly promoting sustainable, innovative, and inclusive economic growth, deepening regional economic integration, strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in the digital age, and enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture.
We look forward to Vietnam playing a larger role in the discussion of regional economic priorities, building consensus on breaking down trade barriers around the Pacific, and encouraging member economies to align with international norms.
The United States also shares a mutual interest in minimizing our collective environmental impact and helping vulnerable populations adapt to the effects of climate change.
Here too, Vietnam, as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, will drive these discussions through its leadership of APEC. Climate change has the potential to affect tens of millions within the region – most significantly in Vietnam. We are committed to helping Vietnam and its neighbors mitigate the impact of climate change.
Heal wounds of past
Fostering deeper people-to-people ties between our nations will continue to be a top priority.
By connecting the boundless potential and aspirations of the Vietnamese people with the tremendous energy of the Vietnamese-American diaspora, we are working to heal the wounds of the past. Only through reconciliation can we close the difficult chapter of our history with honor and focus on the future.
Nothing builds compassion, eliminates misconceptions, and dissolves distrust between people more than traveling and exploring each other’s cultures first-hand, particularly when linked with education.
That’s why I am so excited about the launch of Peace Corps Vietnam and Fulbright University Vietnam.
The Peace Corps program will bring bright, energetic, and dedicated American volunteers who will help Vietnam’s diligent students learn English.
And Fulbright University, the first private, nonprofit American-style Vietnamese University, will demonstrate the value of a transdisciplinary approach, meritocracy, transparency, and academic freedom.
Our countries are working together to ensure our mutual security and to strengthen ASEAN unity. Together, we are powerful advocates for the need to safeguard peace, stability, and the rule of law in the East Vietnam Sea – and to oppose any nation using coercion to press its territorial claims.
With President Obama’s decision last May to lift fully the ban on the sale of lethal weapons, we have finally normalized our defense ties. We will continue to work together to strengthen Vietnam’s ability to protect its maritime security and to work with partners to deliver humanitarian aid in times of disaster.
Vietnam has set ambitious and commendable goals for its development, including the creation of an environment in which ideas compete, capital is accessible, entrepreneurs take risks, and innovation can thrive.
From our own national experience, we have learned that innovation requires the free exchange of ideas. When all members of society can challenge the conventional wisdom, the country can forge a truly entrepreneurial path.
Vietnam is in a “golden moment,” blessed with a large, young population full of passion, talent, and entrepreneurial ideas. I encourage Vietnam to expand the ability of young people to contribute.
We’ve made great strides in our bilateral relationship, and momentum is on our side.
I have no doubt that in this new year, if we continue to work in a spirit of mutual respect, we will achieve even more together.