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Vietnam, US launch talks for investment treaty

Vietnam and the United States have agreed to launch talks for a bilateral investment treaty as their companies signed several deals during a visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

US President George W. Bush (right) and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on June 24

The investment accord "will build on the already strong economic ties between the United States and Vietnam, one of the fastest growing markets for US exports," US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said on Tuesday.

When concluded, it will provide US investors in Vietnam with key legal protections and enhanced market access with "important direct and collateral benefits for US exporters and consumers alike," she said.

The two former battlefield enemies normalized trade relations in 2001.

Two-way goods trade rose 30 percent to US$12.5 billion in 2007 from a year earlier.

Dung also held talks with President George W. Bush on Tuesday and presided with US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez over the signing of contracts and other agreements.

They would provide "expanded access for US companies to Vietnam's growing market," the Commerce Department said.

A memorandum of cooperation was also signed between Vietrade, the Vietnam trade promotion agency, and the US Foreign and Commercial Service.

The US Commerce Department said the new business deals support jobs in the United States and further increase US exports to Vietnam, which grew almost 73 percent in 2007 and more than 133 percent year in April from a year ago.

Signing contracts with their Vietnamese counterparts were aluminum giant Alcoa, electronic communications manufacturer Motorola Inc. and travel technology firm Sabre Holdings.

Alcoa and Gannon had been among the 23 US companies that accompanied Gutierrez's business development mission to Vietnam in November.

Alcoa signed a cooperation agreement with Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group on aluminum industry development.

Motorola and Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group signed contracts worth 28 million dollars for the expansion of a GSM mobile phone network across 12 northern provinces of Vietnam.

Sabre Holdings and Vietnam Airlines Corporation signed a definitive memorandum of understanding for the purchase of an Internet-booking engine and e-commerce solution and a passenger services system.

Two US companies received investment licenses for joint ventures: SSA Marine, for container terminals, and Gannon International, for a brewery and bottling facility.

Source: AFP

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