Vietnam has the most to gain among the nine countries negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership because the deal would boost access to the US market for goods such as textiles, an American official said.
The trade accord would "lock in access" to the US and boost the Southeast Asian nation's attractiveness overseas, Deputy US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said at a press conference on Friday in Hanoi. Investors would begin to consider opportunities in Vietnam after the TPP is implemented much as they are now in Myanmar, he said, after that country's democratic opening.
"The challenge for the negotiators is to be able to realize something that will work well for both countries," Marantis said. "We will have challenges on textiles, which is a very important export interest to Vietnam, but where we have, in the US, import sensitivities."
Vietnam was the second largest seller of textiles and apparel to the US in 2011 after China, according to data from the US International Trade Commission. Pledged foreign direct investment in Vietnam fell 54.5 percent to $1.23 billion in the first two months of 2012 from a year earlier, Vietnam's Foreign Investment Agency of the Ministry of Planning and Investment said Friday.
The Obama administration is in negotiations on the TPP trade agreement with Australia, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Brunei and Vietnam. Two-way trade between the US and Vietnam totaled $21.8 billion last year, according to US Commerce Department data.
The 11th round of TPP negotiations will be held March 1-19 in Melbourne, Australia, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative website.