Vietnam and the US have resumed normal relations for the last 15 years and trade is seen as one of the key elements to their bilateral ties.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), two-way trade between Vietnam and the US has grown steadily since relations were normalised in 1995.

Annual trade between the two nations was roughly 451 million USD for the first ten years after bilateral ties were normalised. However bilateral trade only started to gather steam in 2005 when it rose by 3,200 percent to 6.8 billion USD and to 14.5 billion USD in 2008.

Even after the global economic downturn in 2009, two-way trade still hit 15.4 billion USD, lifting the US to second place after China amongst Vietnam ’s major trading partners.

Trade exchanges continue to accelerate in the first quarter of 2010, with the total turnover amounting to 3.9 billion USD or a 16.5 percent year on year rise.

“I cannot believe this has happened in such a short period of time,” said the US Ambassador to Vietnam , Michael Michalak, at a forum in May this year on the depth of Vietnam-US trade relations.

The Ambassador said that this year he expected to see a continued high number of US companies investing in Vietnam and that there has been no sign of that interest subsiding.

“It is very likely that our bilateral trade in 2010 will set a new record,” he said.

Trade analysts have said that Vietnam-US trade is likely to reach 19-20 billion USD this year, of which Vietnam will have exported more than 14 billion USD and imported just over 5 billion USD from the US .

In the first half of this year, Vietnam exported 6.2 billion USD worth of goods to the US , a 22 percent rise against the same period last year.

Vietnam has always enjoyed a trade surplus in its trade relations with the US . In 2005, Vietnam ’s exports to the US were 5 billion USD higher than its imports. In 2008, the figure climbed to 9.2 billion USD and despite the global economic crisis in 2009, Vietnam ’s trade surplus still reached 8.35 billion USD.

The US has become the largest export market for Vietnamese products and the market has become more important especially as Vietnam ’s trade deficit has risen steadily in recent years.

Vietnam exports 18 main groups of products to the US , of which textiles and garments are the largest followed by wooden products and footwear.

However, experts said that two-way trade between Vietnam and the US accounts for only a small proportion of the latter’s trade and Vietnam is currently 30 th position out of countries that trade with the US .

US two-way trade with Vietnam accounts for only 0.6 percent of its total export and import turnover.

Nguyen Duy Khien, the head of the MoIT’s American Marketing Department has urged local enterprises to step up trade promotions, improve the added value of their products and focus more on promoting their brands to American consumers.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Michalak said that “finding good partners” is the key to doing long-term business in the US./.