US in $500-mln deal to boost Vietnam infrastructure

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Vietnam and the United States agreed on Monday to US financing worth US$500 million aimed at boosting American exports for high-priority infrastructure projects in the Southeast Asian country.

The deal with the Export-Import Bank of the United States "will begin a new economic era" in ties between the two countries which this year mark 15 years of normalized relations, US ambassador Michael Michalak said.

Foreign businessmen in Vietnam have frequently expressed concern about the lack of seaports, roads, electricity and other infrastructure.

Visiting Ex-Im chairman and president Fred Hochberg expressed a readiness to help finance development in key sectors including communications, highway and rail projects, renewable energy and other types of power.

Hochberg, who signed the memorandum of understanding with Vietnam Development Bank general director Nguyen Quang Dung, said Ex-Im will fund the purchase of US goods and services by the Vietnamese government and private companies.

Ex-Im provides loan guarantees, export-credit insurance and direct loans primarily to emerging markets, to finance the sale of US exports. It has a current exposure of $231 million in Vietnam.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam has cited estimates that the country needs around $70-80 billion of infrastructure investment over the next five to 10 years.

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