Vietnam PM pledges to improve investment climate

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Vietnam's prime minister promised US businesses Wednesday to work to improve the investment climate, acknowledging concerns about shoddy infrastructure.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who was in Washington for a two-day summit on nuclear security that ended Tuesday, said Vietnam was committed to maintaining a growth target of 6.5 to seven percent this year while taming inflation.

"The Vietnamese government is well aware of difficulties in the investment climate, first of all infrastructure like roads, ports and energy," he told a breakfast meeting with businesspeople.

He said Vietnam needed to work on training managers and its workforce, as well as on curbing red tape.

"I am always listening to comments and contributions and have been striving to improve the business and investment climate in Vietnam," he said.

The United States and Vietnam have been increasing cooperation since normalizing relations in 1995. The former adversaries are now negotiating an investment treaty along with a trans-Pacific free trade deal.

Dozens of protesters staged a noisy rally outside the hotel where Dung spoke, many waving the yellow and red striped flag of South Vietnam.

"We are here to demand that Vietnam release all political prisoners and respect human rights," said Angelina Do of the Vietnam Reform Party. "We should not be giving trade preferences."

Robert Hormats, the US under secretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs, warned on a visit to Vietnam this week that concerns about human rights could impede trade.

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