US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is very important for Vietnam because it will raise the standards of doing business and allow everyone to benefit from economic growth.
The trade pact will create sustainable economic policy across the Pacific so that nobody has to “chock to death on the air they are breathing,” he said.
“It’s not just a question of growing but how you grow,” Kerry said during a Q&A session with mostly young Vietnamese people in Hanoi.
He remained hopeful that negotiations for the TPP will be completed by the end of this year.
The decade-long negotiations were expected to wrap up last month in Hawaii, but disagreements among the 12 nations involved, notably on intellectual property protection, mean further talks are still needed.
Kerry said a couple of difficult issues have to be resolved, and for Vietnam in particular labor issues remain unsolved.
He did not elaborate, but later, in a separate remark, emphasized the need to protect children from being exploited.
He said the TPP, which will cover 40 percent of the global economy, can help promote moral responsibilities.
“We need the strongest possible rules to make sure it’s a race to the top and not a race to the bottom.”
Many US politicians have been touting the mega trade pact as progressive. But critics have argued that the TPP will likely benefit the larger economies much more than the smaller ones.
Education and entrepreneurship
During the Q&A session, streamed live across the country on a popular news website, Kerry also spent a lot of time promoting Fulbright University Vietnam, which will be built in Ho Chi Minh City next year.
He said the independent institution will serve as a "huge springboard" for more universities like it and give Vietnamese students a good education that can rival what other countries have and match their imagination.
“There’s a foundation for success here in Vietnam… You only need to produce more people who can think entrepreneurially and engage in critical thinking.”
Fulbright University, with an investment capital of US$70 million, will offer research and education in public policy and management, science and engineering, and social sciences and humanities.
Kerry said he is confident that graduates from the university will be “extremely qualified.”
He concluded the session by praising Vietnam for its “remarkable” progress and predicting that the country’s young generation will achieve even more in the next decades.
The visit of Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran, was part of many diplomatic activities to mark 20 years of relations between Hanoi and Washington.
He arrived in Vietnam Thursday after attending a regional security forum in Malaysia, where foreign ministers of Southeast Asia discussed rising tensions in the South China Sea amid massive Chinese land reclamation projects.
Kerry’s arrival came only weeks after Nguyen Phu Trong, the leader of Vietnam’s Communist Party, had a landmark trip to Washington to boost ties between the two former foes.