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May 31, 2006 

U.S. and Vietnam Sign Bilateral Market Access Agreement

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced today that the U.S. and Vietnam have signed a bilateral market access agreement that is required as part of Vietnam’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Under the agreement, Vietnam will eventually reduce tariffs to 15% or less on nearly 94% of industrial and consumer goods. In addition, Vietnam's tariffs on construction equipment and pharmaceuticals
will be ultimately reduced to 5% and 2.5%, respectively. Vietnam will bind tariffs at zero on 91% of medical equipment products within five years of accession to the WTO. Vietnam will also eliminate all import duties on 96% of scientific equipment within three years after accession.

With respect to antidumping issues, the agreement provides that Vietnam’s status as a non-market economy can be maintained for up to 12 years from the date of accession, unless Vietnam qualifies for market economy status before then. The USTR's fact sheets on the agricultural, indusrial and services related provisions of the agreements can be found here.

On a personal note, be sure to add Vietnam to your list of travel destinations. I was there in December and I assure you it is worth the trip. Hoi An, Ha Long Bay, Hue and My Son are all UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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