U.S. Statement on the Second Trade Policy Review of Vietnam

Statement by the United States on the second Trade Policy Review of Viet Nam 

 As Delivered by David F. Bisbee, Chargé d’Affairs, a.i.
United States Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization  

Geneva , Switzerland
April  27, 2021 

Thank you, Chair.  The United States warmly welcomes Viet Nam’s delegation, led by H.E. Vice Minister Tran Quoc Khanh, and we appreciate the reports prepared by the WTO Secretariat and the Government of Viet Nam for Viet Nam’s second Trade Policy Review (TPR).    

Viet Nam is an important economic partner of the United States, and our bilateral trade relationship has deepened significantly since Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO in 2007.  In 2019, U.S. goods and services two-way trade with Viet Nam totaled an estimated $ 81.3 billion. The United States continues to work closely with Viet Nam through our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to strengthen our bilateral trade relationship and address priority issues.  

The United States recognizes the importance of WTO membership to Viet Nam and appreciates its expression of support for WTO reforms.  We appreciate the leadership Viet Nam’s Ambassador and Mission here continue to play in supporting the regular work of WTO Committees and in active negotiations and would encourage Viet Nam to take an even more prominent role here in the WTO.  We commend Viet Nam for its continued economic reforms, including improvements to its legal framework, since the previous TPR.  We would like to use the review today to highlight some of those areas, and to also identify and raise certain areas in which the Government of Viet Nam could make further improvements and implement additional reforms.  

The United States welcomes efforts by Viet Nam to fully implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, beginning with the establishment of Viet Nam’s National Trade Facilitation Committee.  We note with interest Viet Nam’s partnership with the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation to develop a modern customs bond system for the conditional release of goods.  Once in place, Vietnam will be the first country in Asia with such a comprehensive system.  With support from USAID’s Trade Facilitation Project, Viet Nam is now regularly reviewing its progress to implement its TFA category B and C commitments and is developing a forward-looking plan to ensure timely notifications.  We would urge Viet Nam to consider joining the WTO Communication entitled, Supporting the Timely and Efficient Release of Global Goods Through Accelerated Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (G/TFA/W/25).  A Rev. 4 will be issued in the near term and we welcome Viet Nam joining the United States and the 14 other co-sponsors in making this important statement.    

The United States also recognizes that Viet Nam has issued a number of measures to address origin fraud and illegal transit of goods through Viet Nam.  We would appreciate an update on these measures and other actions taken by Viet Nam to address these issues.    

The United States notes the importance Vietnam has placed in advancing its digital economy in support of its broader growth and development goals. However, we have significant concerns with certain existing and proposed measures that may undermine the provision of services foundational to this digital future, which are frequently provided on a cross-border basis.  For example, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has issued a draft implementing decree for the Law on Cybersecurity that includes data localization and local presence requirements, and has recently released a draft Decree on Personal Data Protection that appears to replicate and expand the scope of data localizations requirements.  We also are concerned that draft revisions to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) Decree 6 on the Management, Provision, and Use of Radio and Television Services would impose significant new restrictions on legitimate on-demand suppliers of such programming.  The United States would appreciate updates from Viet Nam on the status of these measures.  We also note that Viet Nam maintains a local-agent requirement for cross-border advertising services, and that in 2020, MIC issued a revised draft of Decree 181 on Advertising Services that would remove Viet Nam’s local agent requirement.  The United States would appreciate an update on the status of this revised draft.    

In the area of agricultural trade, we would like to note that Viet Nam and the United States are both cosponsors of the proposed MC12 SPS Declaration and Work Program. We have sincerely appreciated Viet Nam’s active engagement and partnership in this initiative.  

The United States has concerns regarding SPS measures maintained by Viet Nam that restrict trade.  We have posed a number of questions on food safety, pre-clearance and post-clearance inspections, animal health, maximum residue limits, pesticides, as well as the risk assessment and the proposed domestic ban for glyphosate.  We look forward to receiving and reviewing Viet Nam’s responses.  As was the case in the previous TPR, the United States continues to encourage Viet Nam to provide notifications required by the SPS Agreement at an early stage to ensure a reasonable period of time for consideration of comments prior to finalizing laws and implementing regulations.  We also would like to stress the importance of Viet Nam responding to official comments submitted by the United States.    

We recognize efforts by the Government of Viet Nam to strengthen elements of its intellectual property regime, including efforts to amend the Law on Intellectual Property and continuing public awareness campaigns and training activities.  However, the United States continues to have several concerns, including Viet Nam’s heavy reliance on administrative enforcement actions, lack of coordination among ministries and agencies responsible for enforcement, and widespread counterfeiting and online piracy.  We would appreciate updates on Viet Nam’s plans to further strengthen its IP framework, including through upcoming revisions to the IP Law, and enhanced enforcement efforts.  

The United States also recognizes Viet Nam’s active engagement in the fisheries subsidies negotiations, and we welcome working together with Viet Nam and other Members to achieve a meaningful agreement.  As a party to CPTPP, Viet Nam has already adopted fisheries subsidies disciplines and we recognize Viet Nam’s efforts to reform its subsidy programs and prohibit the most harmful fisheries subsidies.   

We appreciate the opportunity provided by this meeting to discuss Viet Nam’s trade and investment policies. We are closely reviewing the responses we have received, and would like to note that at this time we have not yet received responses to all our advance written questions.  We look forward to Viet Nam’s responses to our questions, to working together to resolve outstanding issues and further strengthen our bilateral relationship, and to continued good cooperation here at the WTO and in ASEAN, APEC, and other fora.  

Thank you.