Vietnam and America: foes on paper, friends out of necessity


U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. U.S., August 1, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

“Almost the single worst abuser of everybody.”

This was how US President Donald Trump described Vietnam’s approach to trade in an interview in June.

His damning verdict was followed a few days later by an announcement from the US Department of Commerce that it would be imposing duties of up to 456 per cent on Vietnamese steel imports.

Hanoi has been seen as the biggest winner from Trump’s trade war with China, but is now also on the receiving end of a hardening approach from Washington. The change poses a big danger for Vietnam as the country is a trade-dependent economy and the US is its largest export market.

Trump has also abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed agreement between 12 nations from which Vietnam stood to be one of the main winners.

But despite these troubles, ties remain tight between the two former cold war foes as the two rediscover the importance of their relationship against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive China. - SCMP

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