Congress Acting On Vietnam Legislation

A bipartisan group of senators and
members of the House of Representatives has introduced legislation that would grant permanent
normal trade Relations (PNTR) to Vietnam, an essential step toward Vietnam’s accession to the World
Trade Organization (WTO). The Senate bill was introduced by Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Max
Baucus, D-Mont., with six initial co-sponsors, and a companion House bill was introduced by 22
members. The action followed the negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the United
States and Vietnam that, among other things, calls for the removal of textile and apparel import
quotas. US textile manufacturers are upset by the Vietnam FTA, but retailers and other importers of
textiles and apparel have given it a strong endorsement.

In introducing the bill, Smith said: “As a businessman, I’ve seen how trade can raise
standards of living both in America and the world. International commerce creates new growth
opportunities for manufacturers and agriculture producers, and the WTO membership for Vietnam will
ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules.”

In a related development, citing their concerns over the Doha Round of trade liberalization
negotiations and the Vietnam FTA, 44 members of the House of Representatives wrote US Trade
Representative Susan Schwab, calling for separate sectoral negotiations for textiles and what they
called “adequate safeguards” as a condition for admitting Vietnam to the WTO. The members of
Congress are from predominately textile-producing states. Their letter says the two requests are “
crucial to the long-term health and survival of the US textile industry.”

June 20, 2006