In February, Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States Pham Quang Vinh visited the State of Maryland, meeting with Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford and Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy Walter Carter. In both meetings, the Maryland-Vietnam partnership was emphasized, and Ambassador Vinh delivered a speech to the International Club of Annapolis, to further strengthen ties, as he expects potential expansion in Maryland-Vietnam collaboration.
Exports from Maryland to Vietnam are valued at $21 million and are increasing, putting Vietnam within the State’s top 20 trade partners. The state has been increasing its efforts on foreign trade and investment, and a deal was made in 2009 to establish economic development offices co-located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s political and business capitals respectively. The offices are intended to attract trade and investment to the State of Maryland and assist Maryland companies doing business in Vietnam. Similar offices are also located in South Korea, Japan, India, China, and Taiwan, as well as in Europe and Africa, making up 13 global locations in total. In 2011, a Maryland trade mission was sent to Vietnam and other countries in Asia, helping to garner $145 million in trade and investment deals. The 68-member delegation consisted of business leaders, government officials, and academics, and resulted in record high exports to Vietnam that year of more than $26 million. The major trading relationship between Vietnam and the State of Maryland includes companies like Under Armour, which imports apparel products to its factory in Baltimore, and Perdue Foods, which exports poultry products.
Maryland-Vietnam relations are not limited to trade. The University of Maryland holds a Joint Master’s Degree program with the People’s Police Academy in Vietnam. The University’s Medical Center Team also volunteered in a medical mission at Ho Chi Minh City in March, to perform non-standard head and neck surgeries with no costs to the patients. Maryland also has a sister state relationship with Vietnam’s Ninh Thuan Province.
The bilateral relationship between the United States and Vietnam is also thriving; trade revenue has grown at an annual average rate of over 20% since 2002, as ambassador Vinh mentioned in his speech. In March, a delegation of around 30 US business executives held a meeting with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi. The delegation, led by the US-ASEAN Business Council, expressed their interests in developing long-term business with the country. Investment in fields such as thermoelectric and wind power, animal feed manufacturing and distribution, chemicals, agriculture insurance, micro-finance, information technology, movies, and startups in Vietnam drew strong interest, for which the Prime Minister expressed appreciation.
Yumiko Kozu is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and an exchange student at Dartmouth College.