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Vietnam: Obama, Bourdain, Tariffs, and TPP

Happy BuddhaPresident Obama had dinner with Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam, during the President's 10th trip to Asia. Bourdain picked up the $6 tab. The President also spent some time talking about, among other matters, the TransPacific Partnership agreement.

Vietnam is one of the countries predicted to benefit the most from the TPP agreement. The World Bank estimates the TPP would increase Vietnam's GDP nearly 10 % over a decade. 

Vietnam is the least developed country in the agreement, which means it has to do the most to meet the many requirements for inclusion in the TPP. The country has begun implementing legislation to raise labor standards, which includes allowing workers to form unions, setting minimum wages, and stopping forced labor and child labor.

During a news conference in Hanoi Obama said the region is the fastest-growing part of the world, and that it represents an enormous market for the US. In fact, in 2015 US goods exported to Vietnam reached record highs. The Vietnamese economy is thriving and there is a hearty appetite for Made in America products.

Proponents of the TPP say the agreement will "level the playing field" for US goods and services, allowing the US to increase exports, thereby benefitting US manufacturers and workers. Here's an example given by the US Chamber of Commerce: 

"U.S. products will compete on a more level playing field with goods from TPP countries’ other free trade agreement (FTA) partners – including China, India, and the EU.  As just one example, certain U.S. auto parts currently face a 27-percent tariff entering Vietnam.  Other countries that have an FTA with Vietnam, such as China, Thailand, and Indonesia, export their auto parts to Vietnam duty free.  By eliminating duties U.S. auto parts companies face, TPP would help boost their competitiveness in the Vietnamese market."

Check out a few more factoids from a Fact Sheet about exports and tariffs just below, and the available data file of Vietnamese Consumers below that.

U.S. Machinery Exports: In 2014, the United States exported $311 million in machinery to Vietnam.  However, these goods, like construction equipment, pumps, valves, and electric motors faced tariffs as high as 59 percent when entering the Vietnamese market.

U.S. Wine, Beer, and Spirits Exports:  The United States exported more than $26 million in alcoholic beverages to Vietnam in 2014. Under TPP, Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on all wine products, currently as high as 55 percent, in 11 to 12 years; tariffs on all beer products, currently as high as 35 percent, in 11 years; and tariffs on all distilled spirits, currently as high as 45 percent, in 11to 12 years.

U.S. Chemical Exports: Vietnam currently places tariffs as high as 35 percent on Made-in-America exports of chemical goods like cosmetics, soaps, paints, lubricants, glues, and plastic tubes. In 2014, the U.S. exported more than $465 million in chemical goods to Vietnam, and 87.5 percent of which will be immediately duty free upon implementation.

VIETNAM CONSUMER File - Infocore ID 237453
Target with precision using the numerous demographic profiles contained in this file of 950,000 Vietnamese consumers. Selects include but are not limited to gender, age, and socio-economic class.

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