Looking Ahead to Work Together as Friends
As the United States of America and Vietnam mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of normal diplomatic relations, both nations affirmed commitment to boost relations in the 21st century.
In his remarks in Hanoi in Vietnam, US Secretary of State John Kerry said President Obama and President Sang launched in 2013 a comprehensive partnership between the two governments, a partnership that also extends more broadly to their own people.
“Today, we are strengthening our ties in a host of areas – education, the environment, science, technology, high-tech, the Internet, and even military-to-military cooperation.” – Secretary Kerry
In addition, Secretary Kerry said both nations have a priceless opportunity to achieve a breakthrough on trade.
Partnership in Trade
According to Secretary Kerry, the negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement began more than five years ago.
The agreement is set to involve a dozen nations along the Pacific Rim, and expected to elevate trade among the countries representing nearly 40 percent of the globe’s economic output.
When completed, it will result an unprecedented regional platform on which to support innovation and create jobs, enhance the environment, improve working conditions, and strengthen commercial ties from Hanoi and Tokyo to Santiago and Washington D.C.
“It’s no wonder that surveys show strong support for this landmark agreement in both of our countries.” – Secretary Kerry
In addition, Secretary Kerry emphasized that more trade with higher standards is a critical milestone on the path to a shared and sustainable future.
Partnership in Education
According to Secretary Kerry, a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand. Similarly, so does a high performing system of education.
The commitment to education in Vietnam is strong, with literacy rates above 90 percent and there are more than 160 colleges and universities.
To boost partnership in the field of education, the Institute of International Education has sponsored a series of partnerships between U.S. universities and Vietnam.
To cite an example, the University of Hawaii offers an Executive MBA program that is accredited in the United States and in Vietnam. And just recently, the US government is moving ahead with the founding of Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City.
In addition, Vietnam issued a license for construction to begin on the school, which is affiliated with Harvard and will emphasize academic freedom and an awareness of what the global marketplace demands.
Cooperating on Security Issues
Secretary Kerry said Vietnam is a partner in America’s Global Peace Operations Initiative. In 2014, Vietnam began contributing to UN peace operations in a small way, but with plans to send engineering, medical, and other specialized units in the near future.
Together with the United Kingdom, US is helping personnel from Vietnam to be able to prepare for those specialized kinds of deployments.
Big News Today: The United States and Vietnam Have Reconciled
Highlighting that both nations are in the process of reconciliation, Secretary Kerry said the good news is that both nations have reconciled.
Big transformations have taken place within 20 years since the normalization of relations for both countries.
According to Secretary Kerry, there were fewer than 60,000 annual American visitors to Vietnam twenty years ago. Today, there are nearly half a million.
“Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 800 Vietnamese students studying in the United States.” – Secretary Kerry
But today, there are 17,000. And when it comes to bilateral trade in goods, it was only $451 million. But today, it’s more than 36 billion.
“They are a measure of one of the most remarkable transformations in history.” – Secretary Kerry
In the 20 years since the normalization of relations between the two nations, Secretary Kerry underscored that the United States and Vietnam have again proven that former adversaries really can become partners, even in the complex world.
Working Together as Friends
Secretary Kerry highlighted that the process of moving on and healing and restoring the diplomatic ties is not about forgetting.
“If we forget, we cease to learn.” – Secretary Kerry
However, dwelling in the past is not good. Indeed, both countries have made significant progress to make amends and become partners in wide range of economic and security issues.
In fact, Americans and Vietnamese are getting to know each other better through student exchanges, business deals, tourism, family ties.
Also, more and more Americans of Vietnamese descent are now building new ties to the land that they or their parents and their grandparents left – another important part of the healing process.
“And more important thing is that the time has come to look ahead, and to understand that the United States-Vietnam agenda is no longer shaped primarily by what was.” – Secretary Kerry
The United States wants to continue to strengthen and expand its ties with Vietnam to further enhance its continued positive role as an emerging economy and responsible trading partner.
The United States is ready and willing to be a strong partner in supporting Vietnam’s efforts to continue modernizing the economy – and address issues of climate change, intellectual property protection, and developing new standards for labor.