The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has assisted 19 Vietnamese government ministries and agencies in implementing trade-related legislation, building capacity for trade liberalisation and governance, and further economic integration over the past three years.

The outcomes of the USAID-funded “Support for Trade Acceleration” project (USAID STAR PLUS) were unveiled at a ceremony jointly held by the US agency and the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice in Hanoi on August 26.

Launched in 2010, the project supported Vietnam in its steps toward economic integration. It engaged in areas related to preparation for and implementation of trade agreements, customs modernisation, facilitation of agricultural trade, and legal transparency.

This translated into projects and outreach events to help the National Assembly and the private sector in Vietnam better understand the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), developing an annual survey with customs officials to solicit feedback from the private sector on their services, providing technical input to develop new food safety regulations, and piloting innovative software to help the State Bank of Vietnam systematise its regulations.

Deputy Minister of Justice Le Hong Son affirmed that the project plays a positive role in developing the rule of law, improving transparency in the business environment consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) and international best practices.

It also creates a healthy competitive environment to enable investors of all economic sectors to compete successfully and take advantage of the opportunities resulting from trade liberalisation, he added.

“Our work through USAID STAR Plus and previous economic growth programmes dating back to 2001 represent a growing partnership between the United States and Vietnam to build a rule-based trading system consistent with the WTO and BTA,” said US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Claire Pierangelo at the project closing ceremony.

These efforts contributed to developing the rule of law, governance, and economic relations between the two countries, Claire Pierangelo noted.

Trade acceleration has been a key feature in the relationship between the United States and Vietnam , with bilateral trade growing from 1.5 billion USD in 2001 to close to 25 billion USD in 2012.

This trade expansion is partly thanks to extensive trade liberalisation under the BTA and the WTO, which benefited from technical assistance of USAID STAR Plus and its predecessors, USAID STAR I and II.-VNA