On Wednesday, Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed embarked on a six-day visit to Vietnam and the Philippines, as part of a U.S. delegation led by National Security Advisor Ambassador Robert O’Brien to advance economic growth and national security cooperation in the region. The delegation also will meet with U.S. officials in Alaska and Hawaii.

Southeast Asia is a region of importance for the national security and economic interests of the United States. I look forward to meeting our partners and friends in Vietnam and the Philippines to discuss ways to strengthen our bilateral relationships and support a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” said Ambassador O’Brien.

“During my previous visit to the Indo-Pacific region, I heard loud and clear from both government and industry that the Export-Import Bank of the United States has a targeted role to play when it comes to supporting trade, economic growth, prosperity, and jobs in both Southeast Asia and the United States. Building on those meetings, I am honored to join Ambassador O’Brien in important discussions with leaders in Vietnam and the Philippines,” said Chairman Reed. “EXIM stands ready to support the export of high-quality ‘Made in the USA’ goods and services to the region, including through our new ‘Program on China and Transformational Exports.’”

Vietnam: Covid-19 success story

On Thursday, Nikkei Asian Review ran a feature highlighting Vietnam’s economic growth, which has remained positive since the onset of covid-19, bucking the widespread declines of its neighbors throughout Southeast Asia.

Vietnam’s real GDP rose 2.6 percent year-over-year in the third quarter, marking a second consecutive quarter of growth.

Nikkei Asian Review noted that the IMF is forecasting Vietnam’s nominal GDP to surpass Singapore and Malaysia by the end of this year, bringing it to a fourth-place ranking in economic size in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEA).

Rising exports have been a key driver of this trend, as Vietnam has been a beneficiary of companies relocating production operations out of China since the onset of U.S.-China trade tensions. Consumer spending—which has been steadily rising in Vietnam in recent years and currently accounts for around 70 percent of the country’s economy—has been resilient, possibly owing to the fact that was quick to take action on covid-19, imposing a drastic nationwide lockdown in April, limiting the human and economic toll of the drawn-out pandemic

Transformational Exports

Chairman Reed will meet with government officials and business leaders to discuss how EXIM can support U.S. exports to these nations. She also will discuss EXIM’s historic, seven-year Congressional reauthorization, which was signed into law in December 2019. This legislation directs EXIM to establish a “Program on China and Transformational Exports” to “support the extension of loans, guarantees, and insurance, at rates and on terms and other conditions, to the extent practicable, that are fully competitive with rates, terms, and other conditions established by the People’s Republic of China[.]” The Program focuses on advancing the comparative leadership of the United States with respect to China and also supports U.S. innovation, employment, and technological standards through direct exports in key industries, including 5G, financial technology, renewable energy, biomedical sciences, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and advanced computing.

This visit to Southeast Asia will advance Chairman Reed’s previous discussions—including with Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc—that took place during a U.S. delegation visit to Indonesia, Vietnam, and Burma in October.

On Wednesday, Chairman Reed, on behalf of EXIM, signed a $750 million Memorandum of Understanding with the Republic of Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning. The MOU promotes U.S. exports in information and communications technology, energy, infrastructure, health care, and other critical sectors.

ICYMI

The visit comes days after Vietnam joined 14 other ASEAN member nations and 5 regional partners representing about 30 percent of global GDP signed the pan-Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, billed as the largest free trade agreement in history.

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