Disputes between the US and Vietnam over tariffs and market access policy have stalled their Trans-Pacific Partners (TPP) negotiations, currently underway with an additional 10 other Asian-Pacific countries. The participants hope to create a new trade agreement equitably beneficial to all parties.
At issue is Vietnam’s requests for market access for its apparel and footwear products and a protectionist US tariff policy.
US imposed tariffs for some imported products and goods is an average of less than two percent, textile and apparel tariffs range from 11.1 percent to almost 30 percent.
In a report published by Reuters, Nguyen Vu Tung, deputy chief of mission at the Vietnam embassy in Washington, DC, is quoted as saying the latest offer from the US “…is really, really difficult for us to accept.”
With mutual agreement between the US and Vietnam, “I’m really concerned about the prospect of Vietnam to conclude the successful negotiation of TPP,” he said.
On the TPP negotiating table is the following quid pro quo: Vietnam has asked the US to eliminate the tariffs, and the US has asked that Vietnam lift its tariff on US manufactured goods and agricultural products.
The US has also asked that Vietnam resolve a number of current trade issues. Among them are new regulatory rules for trade by Vietnam’s government-owned businesses, protection of US intellectual property, the enforcement of labor and environmental laws and requirements, and more participation in the Vietnam government procurement which would facilitate the entry of foreign businesses into the Vietnam market.
All participants in the TPP talks anticipate a swift conclusion to the new trade agreement.
Vietnam is one of the world’s largest exporters of clothing, most recently with the US and Japan its principal customers. Exports of apparel and textiles were up 8.4 percent over the previous period for the first half of 2013, although exports to European markets fell four percent.