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Cablegate: Senator Baucus Urges Vietnam to Open Market to U.S Beef,

VZCZCXRO3194
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #1401/01 3580807
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230807Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8924
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5422
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001401

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS
USTR FOR BISBEE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP EFIN EAID ECPS ECON ETRD VM
SUBJECT: SENATOR BAUCUS URGES VIETNAM TO OPEN MARKET TO U.S BEEF,

REFORM LABOR LAW

HANOI 00001401 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) met with Vietnamese
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, National Assembly Vice Chairman Uong
Chu Luu, Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang and Education Vice
Minister Banh Tien Long on December 16-17, 2008. Baucus urged
Vietnamese officials to open their market to U.S. beef, join the
Trans-Pacific Partnership trade alliance (TPP), reform Vietnam's
labor laws to obtain coverage under GSP, and increase IPR
enforcement. The prime minister and other Vietnamese officials
thanked Baucus for his steadfast support of Vietnam, including his
backing of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), the Bilateral
Trade Agreement and WTO accession. The prime minister also asked
the American people to "take responsibility for the war in Vietnam
and help the Vietnamese people." End summary.

FIRST VISIT TO VIETNAM SINCE 1963
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, accompanied by
staffers, visited Hanoi December 16-17. The visit to Vietnam was
Baucus's first since 1963, when he spent several days in Saigon as a
student. The Senator marveled at Vietnam's economic progress since
that time, calling it "miraculous." In front of students at the
Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), where he delivered a speech,
Baucus praised the development of the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral
relationship and outlined steps to continue the engagement between
the two countries.

TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP
-------------------------

3. (SBU) Baucus urged GVN officials to join the Trans-Pacific
Partnership, the trade alliance formerly known as P4, whose current
members include Singapore, Chile, New Zealand and Brunei. Prime
Minister Dung expressed interest, but said his government would need
to understand all of the obligations before committing to TPP as a
full member.

BUY MONTANA BEEF, LENTILS
-------------------------

4. (SBU) Baucus also urged officials to open Vietnam's market to
U.S. beef from cattle aged over 30 months, consistent with
international standards and the World Organization for Animal Health
(OIE) guidelines. "Vietnam continues to maintain unscientific
restrictions on U.S. beef," Baucus told officials. Vietnam imported
around 10,000 tons of beef through the first eight months of 2008,
mostly from the United States, Australia, Brazil and Argentina,
according to the latest GVN trade figures. Both Prime Minister Dung
and Trade Minister Hoang told Baucus that Vietnam was willing to
discuss the beef issue, but made no immediate commitments. Baucus
also called Vietnam's 13 percent import tariff on lentils "curious,"
since the country has no domestic lentil producers. Hoang said he
was unfamiliar with the issue but promised to follow-up with the
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and Ministry of
Finance (MOF).

VIETNAMESE TRA, BASA EXPORTS AT RISK
------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Baucus warned GVN officials that the USG was currently
weighing a decision to expand the definition of catfish, which may
include Vietnamese tra and basa fish, and transfer the management of
catfish imports from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the
Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA). If the law were to take effect, Vietnamese tra
and basa exports to the U.S. would be controlled more closely, much
like imported meat products. Currently, meat products from just 34
developed countries meet U.S. meat standards.

ANTIDUMPING AND MARKET ECONOMY STATUS
-------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Trade Minister Hoang expressed hope that the incoming U.S.
administration would continue to refrain from initiating new
antidumping investigations on Vietnamese apparel imports. Hoang
also urged the USG to recognize Vietnam's transition from a
non-market economy (NME) by granting Market Economy Status (MES).

STRENGTHEN IPR PROTECTION
-------------------------

7. (SBU) Baucus encouraged the GVN to do more to crackdown on
copyright violations and pointed out that IPR protection was
critical not only for foreign rights holders but for domestic

HANOI 00001401 002.2 OF 002


producers who contribute to Vietnam's economic prosperity. National
Assembly Vice Chairman Luu acknowledged that IPR protection was
often weak and said the government was currently revising its IPR
criminal code with ratification by the National Assembly expected in
2009.

LABOR REFORM REQUIRED FOR GSP
-----------------------------

8. (SBU) Baucus told his Vietnamese interlocutors that he strongly
backed Vietnam's bid to obtain coverage under the Generalized System
of Preferences (GSP), eliminating duties on thousands of Vietnamese
exports. Baucus explained, however, that Vietnam would need to
reform its labor laws to meet international standards regarding the
right of association and the right to organize and bargain
collectively to benefit from GSP. Vietnam is currently working to
overhaul its labor code by 2011 and Baucus urged GVN officials to
speed up that effort to obtain GSP sooner.

PRIME MINISTER: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WAR
--------------------------------------------- --

9. (SBU) Near the end of their December 17 meeting, Baucus asked
Prime Minister Dung, "what one thing would you like Americans to
know about Vietnam?" Dung replied that he wanted the "American
people to take responsibility for the war in Vietnam and help the
Vietnamese people." "Every family in Vietnam has had at least one
person who has died because of the war," he explained. He called
Vietnam a "poor country, facing many challenges," and said Vietnam's
underdevelopment could be explained by the war and the consequences
of the war with the United States. Dung asked Baucus for education
and training assistance as well as help in the area of science and
technology to combat climate change, which posed a particular risk
to Vietnam's low-lying coastline, he said.

EDUCATION COOPERATION
---------------------

10. (U) Vice Minister Long and Baucus discussed the implementation
of a student exchange agreement between Vietnam and the University
of Montana. Baucus told Long he hoped that increasing numbers of
Vietnamese students would consider studying in the United States.
University of Montana officials plan to visit Vietnam in January
2009 to finalize details of the agreement.

11. (U) Codel Baucus declined the option of clearing on this cable.

MICHALAK

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