Scene at the conference (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - With or without the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, trade between Vietnam and the US would continue to rise, a conference heard in HCM City on December 20.

Speaking at “Vietnam-US Trade Interaction after 2016,” Le Thanh Liem, deputy chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said the two countries enjoyed average trade growth of more than 19 percent a year for the past 10 years.

The US is Vietnam’s largest export market, he said.

According to Mary Tarnowka, the US consul general in the city, bilateral trade nearly tripled in the last eight years and now tops 45 billion USD.

US exports to Vietnam surged 44 percent in the first half of this year, making Vietnam the fastest growing export market for the US.

“The US is encouraged by Vietnam’s recent resolution on international economic integration, reaffirming Vietnam’s intention to continue its economic reforms and further open its economy, with or without TPP.

“This resolution is an important signal to trading partners that Vietnam is moving to establish a level playing field for US companies looking to invest and compete in Vietnam.”

These reforms will promote fair, transparent and predictable regulatory systems that enable innovation, attract trade and investment and promote Vietnam’s continued integration into the regional and global supply chains, she said.

"Vietnam is already the 11th largest export market for US agricultural products," she said.

“We can continue to promote these exports. We can also take steps to meet Vietnam’s growing demand for state of the art agricultural technology and equipment, as the country strives to improve food safety and develop its food processing industry.”

She also spoke about co-operation between the two countries in other sectors like education and travel as well as US support for Vietnam’s preparations for the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and others.

Le Quoc An, former president of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, said the TPP would enable Vietnamese firms to boost exports to the US.

“However, there is no problem if there is no TPP. Our exports to the US were still very good [in the past] without the TPP.”

He also urged businesses to make more efforts to offer products and services of the best quality to global consumers, especially those in the US, to boost their exports.

Delegates agreed that whoever is president of the US, Vietnam would continue to develop and integrate.

Tran Ngoc Chau, Vice President of the Vietnam-US Friendship Association’s HCM City chapter, said: “We believe trade between Vietnam and US will reach 57 billion USD in the next five years, with exports from the US doubling from now, whether the TPP comes into being or not.”

Liem said HCM City has welcomed many large US companies seeking opportunities arising from the country’s deeper integration.

“The US currently ranks 11th among countries and territories investing in Vietnam, and I hope the US will soon become the city’s largest foreign investor.”

Le Hoai Quoc, Director of the Saigon Hi-Tech Park, the largest technology cluster in Vietnam, was optimistic that US tech companies like Intel would continue to grow their business in Vietnam irrespective of the TPP.

“Intel is increasing its products and volumes of productions in the high-tech zone. In 2016 its exports from Vietnam will reach 4 billion USD.”

Organised by the Vietnam-US Friendship Association, the conference attracted around 200 delegates, including diplomats, policy makers, entrepreneurs and economists.-VNA