US President Donald Trump discussed trade with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during a White House visit on Wednesday and welcomed the signing of business deals worth billions of dollars and the jobs they would bring, Reuters reports.
General Electric Co. said earlier it had signed deals with Vietnam worth about US$5.58 billion for power generation, aircraft engines and services, its largest ever single combined sale with the country.
GE’s agreement with Vietjet Aviation JSC VJC.HM includes 20 jet engines made by CFM International, a joint venture of GE and Safran SA of France. It also includes a 12-year engine service contract for 215 LEAP-1B engines on 100 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that Vietjet has ordered, GE said.
“They just made a very large order in the United States — and we appreciate that — for many billions of dollars, which means jobs for the United States and great, great equipment for Vietnam,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Phuc said on Tuesday he would sign deals for U.S. goods and services worth US$15 billion to US$17 billion during his Washington visit, mainly for high-technology products and for services.
Communist Vietnam has gone from being a bitter adversary of the United States during the Cold War to an important partner in the Asia-Pacific, where both countries share concerns about China’s rising power.
Phuc told Trump the relationship had undergone “significant upheavals in history,” but that the two countries were now “comprehensive partners.”
However, while Hanoi and Washington have stepped up security cooperation in recent years, trade has become a potential irritant, with a deficit widening steadily in Vietnam’s favor, reaching US$32 billion last year, compared with US$7 billion a decade earlier.
Trump, who has had strong words for countries with large trade surpluses with the United States, said he would be discussing trade with Phuc, as well as North Korea.
Washington has been seeking support for efforts to pressure North Korea to drop its nuclear and missile programs, which have become an increasing threat to the United States. Hanoi has said it shares concerns about North Korea.
Analysts said that while the Trump administration welcomed new business deals with Vietnam, it wants to see moves on trade.
Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said the view was that deals were “nice, but not enough.”
“They want Vietnam to bring some ideas about how to tackle the surplus on an ongoing basis,” he said.
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