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U.S.-Vietnam Economic and Trade Relations:

Issues for the 111th Congress

Michael F. Martin

Analyst in Asian Trade and Finance

October 29, 2009

Congressional Research Service



CRS Report for Congress

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

U.S.-Vietnam Economic and Trade Relations: Issues for the 111th Congress


After more than two decades of virtually no economic contact, the United States and Vietnam

reestablished trade relations during the 1990s. Since then, Vietnam has rapidly risen to become a

significant trading partner for the United States. Bilateral trade has risen from about $220 million

in 1994 to $15.7 billion in 2008. Much of this rapid growth in U.S.-Vietnam trade has been

attributed to U.S. extension of initially conditional and then later permanent normal trade

relations (NTR) status to Vietnam.

The growth in bilateral trade has not been without its accompanying issues and problems. As part

of what it sees as the normalization of relations, Vietnam has applied for acceptance into the U.S.

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and is participating in negotiations of a

Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the United States. Both the Bush and the Obama

Administrations have shown some hesitance in accepting Vietnam as a GSP beneficiary country

and in concluding a BIT with Vietnam. Vietnam would also like to have the United States

officially recognize it as a market economy.

There have also been problems with trade for specific products. The rapid rise in clothing imports

from Vietnam contributed to the creation of a controversial import monitoring program.

Vietnam’s growing exports of certain types of frozen fish fillets led to passage of legislation that

redefined the meaning of catfish and transferred the regulation of catfish from the Food and Drug

Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The fish imports also gave rise to an

antidumping ruling against Vietnam. The Vietnamese...