14 April, 2017
A government-run Vietnamese website says U.S. President Donald Trump sent a letter to President Tran Dai Quang wishing "to promote cooperation on economics, trade, regional and international issues."
The Vietnamese president mentioned Trump's letter during a meeting with Ted Osius, the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam. But there has been no U.S. comment on the matter.
Experts on U.S.-Vietnam relations say Vietnam officials were worried that, under Trump, the U.S. would reduce support for the Southeast Asian nation. The letter eased Vietnam's concerns. But they do not expect any immediate action.
Vietnam was expected to be one of the countries to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But Trump pulled the U.S. out of the trade agreement after he took office in January.
Last year, Vietnam's exports to the U.S. were worth over $38 billion, but it only received $8.7 billion of imports. It would take many years if Trump wants to negotiate a deal that would balance trade between the U.S. and Vietnam.
Adam McCarty is an economist in Hanoi. He said in spite of the letter, Trump might view Vietnam as a country that takes jobs away from the United States. That may affect how his administration deals with Vietnam.
Some experts on Southeast Asia say the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam could become about more than jobs and trade. That would happen if the U.S. asks for Vietnam's help in dealing with China.
Carl Thayer is a retired professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He said even if Vietnam pursues a good relationship with the U.S., the efforts could come undone if Trump mostly deals with China instead of countries in Southeast Asia.
The U.S., under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, has expressed interest in limiting China's expansion in the South China Sea. It is not clear whether Vietnam is part of the U.S. plan.
Kevin Snowball is the chief executive of PXP Vietnam Asset Management in Ho Chi Minh City. He said Vietnam will not want to offend China, its largest trading partner, by making deals with the U.S.
At the moment, worry about the U.S., Trump or China does not seem to be affecting Vietnam's trade.
"We're still doing extremely well with or without TPP, with or without Trump," Snowball said.
I'm Dan Friedell.
Ralph Jennings wrote this story for VOANews. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
cooperation – n. a situation in which people work together to do something
sophisticated – adj. highly developed and complex