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Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh Visits American Cities to Promote Investment and Partnerships

Asia ASEAN The Mekong

From September 17th to 23rd, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh visited San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York, performing activities to kick off the implementation of the new Vietnam-US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

To solidify the recent upgrading of ties between Vietnam and the United States, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh paid a visit to San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York City.

He began his trip in San Francisco, attending the Vietnam-US Business Forum. At the forum, he met with US tech companies in Silicon Valley, including Nvidia, Synopsys, and Meta, to support cooperation between American and Vietnamese firms.

Due to these meetings and past negotiations, a few major tech deals were solidified that will expand the reach of American businesses in Vietnam and develop high-tech manufacturing in the country. Significantly, Synopsys confirmed plans to build chip design centers in Vietnam through the signing of various Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications and Ministry of Planning and Investment. As part of these agreements, Synopsys will also support the plan to establish a Vietnamese semiconductor research institute.

Similarly, Meta committed to expanding the production of metaverse devices in Vietnam, while SpaceX announced plans to invest $500 million in the country and apply for licensing to introduce Starlink services in the country. Such investments underscore rhetoric that accompanied the upgrading of ties between Vietnam and United States, which emphasized cooperation in the semiconductor industry, digital economy, and other science-related fields

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (R) in the meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Washington D.C,, September 19, 2023 (Image courtesy of Nguyen Hong)

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (R) in the meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Washington D.C,, September 19, 2023 (Image courtesy of Nguyen Hong)

Following his visit to California, Prime Minister Chinh proceeded to Washington DC. Aligning with his primary focus during the Vietnam-US Business Forum, he had lunch with CEOs of leading US enterprises in the semiconductor industry, where they talked about investment opportunities in Vietnam and proposed cooperation measures for developing a semiconductor ecosystem in the country. During his stay in DC, he also had meetings with high-ranking federal officials, including US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During these meetings, Prime Minister Chinh advocated for the swift recognition of Vietnam's market economy status and emphasized the need for increased access to the US market for Vietnamese exports, such as garments-textiles, footwear, and agricultural products. He also urged the United States to not impose trade restrictions on Vietnamese goods.

Fostering Partnerships with New York City

Besides attending the General Debate of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, Prime Minister Chinh performed several activities to foster financial cooperation between Vietnam and the United States in New York City. During a meeting with NYSE Vice Chairman John Tuttle, Prime Minister Chinh discussed enhancing ties between NYSE and the Vietnam stock market. He encouraged NYSE to promote investment in Vietnam, offer technical support, and assist in personnel training for stock exchanges. This conversation is particularly timely, as last month the Vietnamese electric vehicle company Vinfast reached a deal with NYSE-listed Black Spade Acquisition Co. to debut on NASDAQ. This moment marked the largest Vietnamese company listed on the US stock market by market capitalization. Prime Minister Chinh also conducted policy dialogue with nearly 100 companies, had a roundtable with big investment funds, and had separate meetings with leaders from big corporations including Boeing, Apple, and Google.

This interest in fostering financial cooperation was further accentuated with Prime Minister Chinh witnessing the signing of a MoU between New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Ho Chi Minh City Chairman Phan Văn Mãi. This MoU established sister city relations between the two cities, aiming to strengthen cooperation on economic, cultural, educational, and environmental issues. As the largest city in Vietnam with a population of around 9.3 million people, Ho Chi Minh City is an increasingly important financial hub and one of the most cosmopolitan metropolitan areas in the country. It acts as a major vehicle for the growth of the Vietnamese economy, accounting for 23% of the country’s gross domestic product and 20% of foreign direct investment.

Furthermore, the MoU highlights the potential for student exchange between the two cities. Currently, there are 1,500 Vietnamese students studying and conducting research at universities in New York City and they now make up the fifth-largest group of foreign students in the United States. Additionally, Ho Chi Minh City has received federal investment in its educational institutions from the United States, where in 2021, the Development Finance Corporation announced $37 million via 20-year direct loan to construct a new campus for the Fulbright University Vietnam. Building on the momentum of past investments and the growing Vietnamese student community in the US, the MoU offers a blueprint for deepening educational ties between the two cities

Prime Minister Chinh’s trip to these three US cities is representative of the growing ties between Vietnam and the United States. The hope is that high-level visits such as this will continue, fostering more communications and partnerships between the business communities and governments of both nations.

Special thanks to Nguyen Hong of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam for permission to use the photos featured in this article

Thao Dang is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a graduate student at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, where she is focusing on US foreign policy.

Matthew Willis is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington. He is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in International Relations, Economics, Government, and East Asian Studies.