October 28, 2005


Change your ways, or no WTO, US warns Vietnam (Aaron Glantz and Ngoc Nguyen, 10/29/05, Asia Times)

Vietnam's attempts to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been blocked by what the country's negotiators say are unacceptable new demands by Washington that the socialist country change the way its economy works - more than it already has. [...]

For the past 15 years, Vietnam has been changing the way it does business, though perhaps not to the extent Washington would like to see it.

It has embraced market economy, attracted factory jobs from overseas, and towering new buildings have sprung up in the capital and in Ho Chi Minh City. In 2002, foreign investors poured more than US$1.2 billion into Vietnam, and the country seems all set to enter the world's official club of capitalist nations.

Yet, the administration of US President George W Bush has been pressuring Vietnam to eliminate subsidies and state-owned enterprises. Talks with negotiators from Washington have broken down over what Vietnam maintains are "new conditions" introduced in recent rounds of talks. [...]

In April, Oxfam released a report entitled "Do as I Say, Not as I Do: The Unfair Terms for Vietnam's Entry to the WTO", which noted that Vietnam is being forced to cut tariffs and subsidies twice as much as neighbors such as Thailand, the Philippines and Nepal. Those countries are already members of the world body.

"For any country, joining the WTO is like jumping into a fast-moving river in the dark without a paddle," said Steve Price-Thomas, Oxfam's spokesman in Hanoi. "It's hard to know for sure what will happen but the important thing is if you jump into a fast-moving river at night you want to make sure you've got a life belt, a flashlight, know which way you're headed, that there's no rocks, etc. So we hope that Vietnam is ready and prepared for life in the club of the WTO."

Want to be treated like a democratic ally? Become one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2005 9:05 AM

Subsidies and tariffs have nothing to do with being a "democratic ally." Or maybe your contention is the U.S. isn't democratic because of our steel tariffs?

Posted by: Josh at October 28, 2005 12:42 PM

I think that was OJ's point. It's not about the subsidies or the tariffs. It's the whole "ally" thing. Thailand, the Philippines, and Nepal fit into one category, Vietnam into another. Very simple, really.

Posted by: BrianOfAtlanta at October 28, 2005 4:05 PM

josh is confused because the nv *are* his allies

Posted by: ward churchill at October 28, 2005 11:39 PM

Perhaps the NV are just waiting until McCain becomes President.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 29, 2005 8:13 AM

paul wellstone will be president before john mc cain ever gets elected.

Posted by: ward churchill jr at October 30, 2005 12:11 AM

He's president of Heaven.

Posted by: oj at October 30, 2005 7:24 AM

hmmmm, president of heaven you say ? this could be just the ticket, and a chance to get away from Theresa

Posted by: john kerry at October 30, 2005 4:28 PM