Obama OKs telecoms satellite sale to Vietnam

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A file photo of Vietnam's second satellite Vinasat-2, which was launched into orbit in May 2012.

President Barack Obama on Monday gave approval for the US Export-Import Bank to extend a $125.9 million loan to a state-owned company in Vietnam to buy a US-made telecommunications and television satellite, the White House said.

Phil Cogan, a spokesman for the US Export-Import Bank, said the approval was needed because Vietnam is a "Marxist-Leninist" economy, and not because the technology involved is particularly sensitive.

US law requires a presidential determination that Ex-Im Bank loans of more than $50 million to Marxist-Leninist economies are in the US national interest, Cogan said.

The proposed sale, which also must be presented to Congress for a 35-day review before it can be approved by Ex-Im's board, is to Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Groups, a wholly state-owned company.

Obama's presidential determination did not provide the name of the US seller, and Cogan said he was still checking to see if he could release the name of the company.

"We're hoping this is the beginning of a flow of deals in the pipeline from Vietnam," Cogan said.

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The fast-growing and populous Southeast Asian country has "enormous infrastructure needs" ranging from renewable energy to highways to airports to telecommunications, he said.

US Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg has visited the country twice to promote US exports.

The United States is also negotiating a regional free trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership that includes its former war enemy from the 1960s and 70s.

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