TPP 11: What will Vietnam do?

VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam still has great opportunities if it joins TPP, but instead of focusing too heavily on trade agreements like the TPP, Vietnam needs to strengthen internal resources, experts say.

After the US withdrew from TPP in January, other countries moved ahead with new negotiation rounds for a TPP 11. Bui Ngoc Son from the World Politics Research Institute said the move showed that the 11 countries still want to maintain TPP and try to escape the US influence to expand relationships. However, he said, as the US left the agreement, TPP’s significance would change to fit the characteristics of the 11 non-US countries. “This may still be a trade agreement, but it will comprise different provisions and follow other principles,” he said.
Le Cao Doan from the Vietnam Economics Institute said that the US withdrawal has left a big gap for other countries. Japan, Australia and New Zealand have expressed their wish to replace the US to hold the leading role in TPP. Meanwhile, China has called on countries to set up the FTAAP (Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific).Commenting about the prediction that the US may come back to TPP, Dang Dinh Dao, former head of the Economics Research & Development Institute, said this is likely to happen. “When joining TPP, all member countries will get benefits,” he said. “The US influence in Asia has decreased significantly.” Dao said it would be a great opportunity for Vietnam because the US is a large market.

Meanwhile, other economists are cautious when talking about the possibility of the US returning to TPP. Doan said this depends on the US administration and Trump. The 45th US President wants to restore US position and strength with bilateral instead of multilateral play. Son thinks it is not likely that the Trump administration would rethink joining TPP. If the US doesn’t change its decision, Dao said that besides the efforts to expand the markets with TPP member countries, Vietnam should accelerate bilateral agreements with the US to boost exports to the market. “The US market is always open. The problem is if Vietnam can satisfy the requirements of the market,” he said, adding that Vietnamese enterprises need to improve the quality of products. Doan thinks that instead of focusing too heavily on FTAs, Vietnam needs to strengthen its resources. Vietnam needs to have its own political views and be independent. “In all cases, it is necessary to build Vietnam into an economically powerful country,” Doan said.

Chi Mai