In July 2013, Presidents Obama and Sang launched the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, an overarching framework for advancing the bilateral relationship. The new partnership advances key initiatives to bolster U.S.-Vietnam relations and underscores the enduring U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific rebalance. In an effort to advance the Comprehensive Partnership and highlight the dramatic transformation in U.S.-Vietnam relations over the years, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the following deliverables during his visit to Vietnam December 14-16:
Maritime Capacity Building: Secretary of State John Kerry announced an initial commitment of $32.5 million in new regional and bilateral assistance to expand maritime capacity building in Southeast Asia. The Secretary’s announcement builds upon the longstanding U.S. commitment to support the efforts of Southeast Asian nations to enhance security and prosperity in the region, including in the maritime domain. In Vietnam, the United States intends to provide $18 million in new assistance to enhance the capacity of coastal patrol units to deploy rapidly for search and rescue, disaster response, and other activities, beginning with training and the provision of five fast patrol vessels to the Vietnamese Coast Guard.
Economic Engagement: The Secretary met with U.S. and Vietnamese business leaders in Ho Chi Minh City to advance our economic and commercial ties. He congratulated General Electric and Cong Ly Company on their recent contract for GE to provide $94 million in additional wind turbines for their signature wind farm project in Bac Lieu province. This is the first U.S.-Vietnam private sector agreement under the U.S.-Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership, and the first renewable energy project to be financed, in part, under a $500 million memorandum of understanding executed between the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the Vietnam Development Bank. This commercial deal underscores U.S.-Vietnam cooperation in renewable energy and sustainable development in the Mekong Delta, generates significant U.S. exports, and supports U.S. and Vietnamese jobs. In October, GE Aviation signed a deal to provide $1.7 billion in engines and servicing for Vietnam Airlines’ Boeing 787 aircraft. These commercial deals build on a strong bilateral trade relationship that has increased over 50-fold in the past 20 years, reaching $25 billion in 2012.
In Hanoi, the Secretary and Vietnamese leaders committed to further deepen this trade relationship through the TPP. The Secretary announced an initial $4.2 million for USAID's “Governance for Inclusive Growth” assistance program, designed to facilitate broad-based, sustainable growth.
Climate Change and Environmental Issues: Secretary Kerry visited the Mekong Delta on December 15, highlighting U.S.-Vietnam cooperation to address climate change, environmental, and development issues crucial to maintaining the Mekong as a source of livelihood and sustenance for nearly 70 million people in the region. The Secretary announced a commitment of $17 million for USAID’s Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program, which is now active in four provinces, including Long An in the Mekong Delta. The Secretary also highlighted the Lower Mekong Initiative and the Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong program, which offers countries the best science available to make decisions on infrastructure.
Education Cooperation: Secretary Kerry met with alumni and faculty of the State Department-funded Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, which provides Masters degrees from its Ho Chi Minh City campus. The Secretary expressed strong support for plans to turn the program into an American-style university.
Promoting Respect for Human Rights: Underscoring the key role human rights plays in economic growth and social stability, as well as in the bilateral relationship, Secretary Kerry engaged civil society leaders, welcomed the Government of Vietnam’s signing of the Convention Against Torture and invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit in 2014, and urged the Government of Vietnam to make further progress on human rights, including the freedoms of association and of expression.
In addition, since July 2013 when President Obama and President Sang announced the Comprehensive Partnership, the United States and Vietnam have initialed an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, awarded a contract for an environmental assessment of dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa Air Base, and signed a memorandum of understanding on continued unexploded ordnance cooperation. The United States and Vietnam have also intensified bilateral dialogues and increased high-level visits (including visits to Vietnam by Treasury Secretary Lew, U.S. Trade Representative Froman, United States Pacific Command Commander Locklear, and Coast Guard Commandant Papp) to enhance bilateral cooperation on key regional and global matters.