Today, the House rejected an attempt to reverse normal trade relations with Vietnam.  The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on his support for continuing trade relations with Vietnam.  

“I supported the renewal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Vietnam in 1999 and I support the renewal again this year.  I believe that overturning the waiver would have serious negative implications for our relations with Vietnam and our larger interests in Southeast Asia.  We are well on our way towards developing a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam that would bring us closer to promoting stability in this often-volatile region.

“Trade with Vietnam has doubled in the last few years.  As Asia’s fourth largest nation, Vietnam is our second-fastest-growing source of imports.  Since the end of the trade embargo in 1995, a dynamic commercial relationship has developed between the two nations, ranging from American sales of cotton, semiconductor chips and computers to Vietnamese exports of coffee and shrimp.

“American trade policy in Asia faces growing challenges.  The region is both the largest overseas market for American goods and our largest source of merchandise imports, but the combination of recent economic crises, policy changes and America’s war on terrorism have left the region vulnerable to economic nationalism, Pan-Asian thinking and resentment of the United States.  These developments pose great risks to America’s position in East Asia and to our vital interest in peace in the region.  We must move carefully.

“I believe that we must pursue the expansion of our contacts in Asia, rather than removing or downsizing our presence in the region.  We must use all the tools at our disposal - trade, aid, exchange programs, participation in WTO and other regional and international organizations - to engage East Asia in productive dialogues towards progress on human rights issues and our national security.  Cutting off trade with Vietnam would be a step backwards, not forwards, in our efforts.”