GE signs Vietnam deals worth $86 million during Clinton trip

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech during a meeting with the business community in Hanoi July 10, 2012.

General Electric Co. signed two deals with Vietnamese companies on Tuesday as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Southeast Asian nation to promote greater economic engagement.

GE will supply one steam turbine generator for Cong Thanh, a private Vietnamese company, for its 660-megawatt thermal power plant in the Nghi Son Economic Zone, in Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam. The project includes $36 million in US export content, according to a State Department statement.

GE will also work with the Vietnamese National Power Transmission Corp. to supply electricity transmission capacitors to the company in a three-phase project valued at $50 million. The capacitors are meant to help Vietnam increase energy efficiency and better regulate its national energy grid.

The US is seeking closer economic and security ties with Vietnam. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month became the highest-ranking American official since the Vietnam War to visit Cam Ranh Bay, used as a base during the conflict, and Vietnam is involved in US-led talks on a nine-country Asia-Pacific trade deal.

The GE contracts will create jobs for Americans, Clinton said in remarks to an American Chamber gathering in Hanoi.

"These deals also translate into more jobs for workers at GE's steam turbine plant in Schenectady, New York, and other sites around the country," she said. "More American businesses competing here benefits Vietnam and benefits the United States."

Surging trade

Two-way trade between the US and Vietnam has grown from about $1 billion in 2001 to almost $22 billion last year, according to State Department statistics, with a 17 percent increase in exports from 2010 to 2011.

Clinton also pointed to other companies based in Vietnam including Imex Pan Pacific and IFB Holdings "that are bringing GAP clothing and Subway sandwiches to cities and towns all across Vietnam."

"That's good for the American companies, and it's good for the communities that attract new investments, new businesses and all the local jobs that go with them," Clinton said.

GE first set up representative offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 1993, two years before the US and Vietnam re-established diplomatic ties. The company employs about 600 people in Vietnam, according to its website.

GE plans to sell jet engines to Vietnam Airlines and other regional carriers, Stuart Dean, GE's Southeast Asia president, said in February. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company earlier this year agreed to supply engines for 230 Boeing Co. planes ordered by Indonesia's PT Lion Mentari Airlines.

Vietnam said last August that it's pursuing an agreement with the US on civilian nuclear technology and welcomed overseas assistance, potentially signaling greater access for American companies including GE. Russia agreed to lend Vietnam as much as $9 billion to fund the construction of the Southeast Asian nation's first nuclear power plant.

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