Cablegate: Vietnam Wants to Conclude Wto Negotiations Before

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Vietnam Wants to Conclude WTO Negotiations Before
PM Visit

1. (SBU) Summary: In a meeting June 1, speaking on behalf
of Prime Minster Phan Van Khai, Vice Foreign Minister (VFM)
Vu Dung told Charge the GVN hopes to conclude WTO
negotiations or achieve a "breakthrough" with the United
States during the bilats June 13-16 in Washington. To that
end, Vietnam plans to send five Vice Ministers to Washington
to assist with the negotiations. The VFM also highlighted
National Assembly efforts to finish relevant legislation in
accordance with WTO requirements. VFM Dung repeatedly
emphasized the importance of the PM's upcoming visit to the
United States and said the GVN wants to make the WTO
negotiations part of the success of that visit. End Summary.

PM Views Visit, WTO As Very Important

2. (SBU) At the request of the Foreign Ministry, Charge met
with VFM Dung on June 1 to discuss U.S.-Vietnam bilateral
WTO negotiations in the context of the upcoming visit of PM
Khai to the United States. (Note: We rarely meet VFM Dung,
who, among other things, is in charge of MFA administrative
issues. MFA's other three Vice Ministers are either out of
town or could not be pulled away to deliver this urgent
message. VFM Dung conducted the meeting entirely in English
and seemed well briefed on WTO issues. End Note.) VFM Dung
said that the PM had personally asked him to meet with the
Charge to convey the PM's thoughts on his visit and the
status of WTO negotiations. According to Dung, the PM has
stressed to the Government the importance of his visit to
the United States. The visit comes at a crucial time for
the two countries and the world is watching to see how the
United States and Vietnam proceed from here.

3. (SBU) One issue the PM particularly wants to focus on,
VFM Dung said, is Vietnam's WTO market access negotiations
with the United States. The tenth meeting of the WTO
Working Party on Vietnam's accession just concluded in
Geneva. Many participants, including the United States,
commended Vietnam for its efforts, multilaterally and
bilaterally, VFM Dung said. The National Assembly is
currently in the middle of its "longest session ever," is
focused entirely on legislation relevant to WTO accession
and recently provided copies of a number of draft laws to
the WTO Secretariat for comment. Vietnam has concluded WTO
negotiations with eight WTO members and expects to conclude
with an additional eight members by mid June. (Note: There
are rumors that Vietnam and South Korea will announce
conclusion of their bilateral agreement this week. End

4. (SBU) With respect to U.S.-Vietnam WTO negotiations, VFM
Dung said that although there are still some differences
between Vietnam's offer and the United States' request, the
GVN has resolved to improve the quality of the next round of
negotiations. To that end, Vietnam will send a "strong
team" to the United States for the bilats June 13-16. Vice
Minister of Trade Luong Van Tu will lead the Vietnamese
delegation. Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen
Bich Dat, Vice Minister of Post and Telematics Tran Duc Lai,
Vice Minister of Finance Le Thi Bang Tam, and Vice Minister
of the Office of Government Nguyen Quoc Huy will accompany
him. The PM is determined that Vietnam will do all it can
to conclude negotiations with the United States during this
round or at least achieve a breakthrough, VFM Dung said.

5. (SBU) For Vietnam, the VFM continued, the Prime
Minister's trip to the United States is very important both
politically and economically. The United States plays a
leading role in the WTO and conclusion of bilateral
negotiations with the United States will help Vietnam
conclude its bilateral negotiations with other WTO members
and become a full-fledged member of the world economic
community. Vietnam is seeking "sympathy and understanding"
from the United States because Vietnam is a poor, developing
country. One of the WTO's principles is not to force
developing countries to make commitments that go beyond
their capacity. In Vietnam's case, implementation of the
U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement has proven the
benefits of trade liberalization. However, at the same
time, Vietnam's capabilities are still limited. One of the
GVN's goals for WTO accession is to promote positive,
sustainable development for Vietnam. (Note: Deputy Prime
Minister Vu Khoan made a similar appeal for sympathy to the
American business community during a meeting in Ho Chi Minh
City June 1. End Note.)

U.S. Supports Vietnam's Accession

6. (SBU) The Charge reaffirmed U.S. support for Vietnam's
WTO accession, noted that the USG also considers the PM's
trip extremely important and said many USG agencies are
working to make the PM's visit a success. He lauded GVN
efforts to send a strong WTO team to Washington and promised
to report on the efforts the GVN is making to achieve
progress in the bilateral negotiations. The Charge added
that the United States has consistently said that it will be
difficult to conclude the bilats during the next round of
negotiations, but assured the VFM that the United States
will work with Vietnam to move the negotiations as far along
as possible.

MFN For Others A Problem in Some Areas

7. (SBU) VFM Dung concluded the meeting by expressing some
concerns about application of the WTO's MFN principle. He
acknowledged that when Vietnam reaches agreement with one
member of the WTO on market access, it has to accord the
same rights to other WTO members. This will be difficult
for Vietnam in some sectors, such as transportation, he
noted. While Vietnam would be happy to grant market access
in this areas to the United States, it is concerned about
having to grant the same access to other trade partners who
might look to set up extensive transportation networks in


8. (SBU) The GVN clearly is banking on making significant
progress during the WTO bilats June 13-16 and remains
determined to link success of the bilats to success of the
PM's visit. While it remains unclear if this "high-powered"
delegation will be able to make necessary concessions in key
areas such as telecommunications, we see the addition of the
Vice Minister of Post and Telematics Tran Duc Lai to the
delegation as a positive sign.


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