The veto on the bill S.3495 passing the Permanent Normal Trade Relations status for Vietnam by United States senator Elisabeth Dole and Linsay Graham could jeopardise Vietnam’s progress in joining the World Trade Organisation of Vietnam.
Le Quoc An-president of the Vietnam Garment and Textile Association gives his views in an interview. Excepts:
Why did the two senators veto the bill?
They fear that Vietnam?s garment and textile could dominate the US after joining the WTO. The two senators also stress on the need to force the Vietnamese government to abolish textile subsidies. Both Dole and Graham recommended for an extension of Vietnam?s garment and textile quota into the US market, thorough consideration of antidumping measures and setting up inspection groups to check the implementation of the government?s commitments in rejecting protection of this industry.
Were you surprised at such a move?
I am not surprised at their moves because they represent two states with the most textile manufacturers including North Carolina and South Carolina. However, what did they point out does not reflect the nature of the garment and textile industry. Firstly, they misunderstood the competitiveness of Vietnam?s textile which is only one fortieth the size of China’s. Garment and textiles exports of Vietnam into the US reached US$2.8 billion or only one eighth of China in 2005. We have far weaker competition capacity than China due to the reliance on imported source materials. In addition, our exports to the US follow many other countries such as India, Mexico, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pakistan that are not imposed quotas or other measures at all. With a 3.8% US market share, Vietnam?s garment and textile industry can hardly be a barrier to the US textile.
What do you think about the US checks on the textile subsidies by Vietnam’s government?
I totally agree with their proposal. The checks will help them find out that some information they mentioned before is completely inaccurate. For example, the information that the Vietnamese government spent US$4 billion investing in state-run garment and textile companies was in essence a 10-year plan calling for investment capital including foreign direct investment into the country?s garment and textile in the 2001-2010 period. The problem is that the US could inspect anytime but should be done after approving the PNTR for Vietnam.
Do you think the statements of the two senators could affect the granting PNTR in the near future?
Under the rules of US Congress, they cannot vote on a bill even if a single senator or congressman puts a veto on it until they reject their proposal or gain the petition of majority of senators and congressmen. Hence, it will be hard to vote on PNTR for Vietnam if Dole and Graham do not recall their proposals when ending the US Congress? vacation.
What are reactions of US businesses and politicians? How will Vietnam?s garment and textile deal with this situation?
The US government has highly appreciated and positively impacted the approval of PNTR for Vietnam. Many senators and congressmen have supported the status. The US business community has basically advocated the matter. Until now, over 150 major groups of the US have participated into the Alliance supporting Vietnam to join the WTO and granting PNTR.
Representatives of Vitas in the US have been explaining and providing information for Dole and Graham and other senators to gain better understanding of the Vietnam?s garment and textile industry.