As a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with Vietnam awaits final review on Capitol Hill, US nuclear energy suppliers say that strengthening ties with the country would lead to more exports and jobs here at home.

In his speech run on the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) website on June 18, Gary Wolski, Vice President of Curtiss-Wright’s Nuclear Division, said Vietnam’s economy in recent years has seen steady economic growth of 5 percent to 6 percent per year.

The country is planning to build up to 10,000 megawatts of nuclear generating capacity by 2030, with the first reactors to come on line in the next decade, he added.

According to Wolski, Curtiss-Wright isn’t alone in seeing opportunity in Vietnam ’s new commitment to nuclear energy. Westinghouse Electric Co. is opening an office in Hanoi this summer to take advantage of potential business opportunities.

David Durham, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, who recently returned from a business trip to Vietnam, said “the country seems to be booming. There’s massive construction going on everywhere. You have an emerging nation that’s building brand new airports, highways, bridges, high-rise office buildings, factories.”

That fast pace of modernisation means there is greater demand for electricity, with the World Nuclear Association estimating annual electricity demand growth at between 10 percent and 15 percent in the coming years, he noted.

According to the US Department of Commerce, the Obama administration last month signed a new agreement called Agreement 123 with Vietnam and sent it to the Congress for review. The agreement will go into effect after 90 days of continuous session, unless the Congress passes a resolution of disapproval.
American suppliers hope to benefit as soon as the agreement goes into effect, with the potential to create large numbers of US jobs.

Last week, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for approval of Agreement 123.

The same day, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced a joint resolution favouring the proposed agreement.-VNA