U.S. business delegation arrives in Vietnam

A U.S. trade delegation representing more than 20 major American companies arrived in Vietnam Wednesday on a four-day trip to talk about expanding investment and Vietnam 's expected accession into the WTO later this year. The trade mission, led by the US-ASEAN Business Council, has about 40 executives representing key U.S. businessses including FedEx Corp., Citigroup Inc., Boeing Co., Ford Motor Co., and General Electric Co.

"I do think there is a lot of interest in Vietnam now," said Shiumei Lin, senior director for international trade policy with the US-ASEAN Business Council. Many of the companies already have representative offices established in Vietnam for several years but are looking at expanding their presence, she said.

"To us, this seems like the second wave of interest companies that didn't come in 1995 but are now looking at expanding in Vietnam and going beyond their initial presence," she said. Bilateral U.S.-Vietnam trade has boomed since the historic trade agreement between the two countries was passed in 2001. Last year, two-way trade topped US$7.5 billion.

Company representatives will also be discussing with Vietnamese leaders the country's accession bid to World Trade Organization and what changes in the business environment would bring in more foreign investment, Lin said.

Delegation members are beginning their trip Wednesday in the southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City and will be traveling to Hanoi on Thursday. The group have meetings scheduled with Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan on Friday and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai on Saturday. They will also meet with senior officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, planning and investment, finance and trade, reports the AP.


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