Remarks by USAID Assistant Administrator Eric Postel at the Workshop on Macroeconomic Challenges, Credit Crunch and Business Solutions
HANOI, June 28, 2012 -- It is a pleasure for me to meet all of you and I appreciate your welcoming my participation in this workshop on Macroeconomic Challenges, the Credit Crunch, and Business Solutions. This is my first visit to Vietnam, and, as you gather today to discuss current and future economic challenges, I congratulate you on the extraordinary economic growth that Vietnam has achieved over the last 20 years.
Annual bilateral trade between Vietnam and the United States grew ten-fold between 2001 and 2011, to over $17 billion dollars. The United States is now Vietnam's largest export market and, in some years, the largest source of foreign direct investment. USAID, through our STAR Plus project, has helped facilitate that growth in bilateral trade.
USAID has also assisted Vietnam and 27 other countries in Asia and Eastern Europe integrate into the World Trade Organization, facilitating fair trade among countries as part of our commitment to good, transparent business and trade practices worldwide.
USAID has also played a role in assisting the Government of Vietnam to realize the new opportunities following the signing of the Bilateral Trade Agreement and Vietnam's WTO accession. Now we are assisting Vietnam in understanding how it can benefit from an even more important agreement. This is one between the United States, Vietnam and nine other countries -- the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.
Independent academic research suggests that the 11 countries in the TPP will reap enormous benefits, and that Vietnam will be the biggest winner overall. So, these are exciting times.
All that said, more effective global economic integration creates challenges as well as opportunities. And that brings us back to today's workshop. As countries around the world benefit from increased access to international markets, we must also deal with the economic challenges occurring in those markets, be it in Europe, the United States, Asia or elsewhere.
Today's meeting of policy makers and researchers is a very important opportunity to share thoughts on significant challenges and discuss key issues that have implications for the economy. While there may be no clear answer to some of these challenges, a transparent and active dialogue among a variety of stakeholders is a fruitful way to help identify the way forward. This workshop is a healthy and tangible step in that direction.
I look forward to working with you and learning from you as you share your questions and thoughts.
I wish you all great success.