Posts Tagged ‘vietnam transpacific partnership’
I have a new piece out over at World Politics Review looking at some of the key issues that have shaped will shape US-Vietnam relations. I argue that the Washington needs to sustain and balance its engagement with Vietnam and Asia more generally this year even as it is consumed by elections, manage its relationship with China adroitly, and try to make progress on further strengthening economic and trade relations. Hanoi, for its part, needs to sustain internal reforms and address some of Washington’s concerns about human rights in order to increase the ‘ceiling’ on what can be achieved in the relationship. These measures will help both sides elevate the relationship “to the next level” as leaders often declare. Here are the first few paragraphs:
Relations between the United States and Vietnam have progressed rapidly and comprehensively since the normalization of ties in 1995. In just the past few years, the two countries have inked agreements in areas including environmental protection, nuclear energy and health research cooperation. They have also deepened their robust economic relationship, with Vietnam signing on to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and have declared their common interest in freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Yet if the U.S. and Vietnam wish to take their emerging strategic partnership to the next level, as officials from both sides have indicated, they will need to get past several challenges.
For the United States, the challenge will be sustaining and balancing its engagement with Vietnam and Asia more generally. Vietnam has welcomed the great strides made in relations between the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) under the Obama administration, including developments such as the Lower Mekong Initiative and American attendance at the East Asia Summit last year. However, Hanoi worries about the sustainability of the U.S. presence. This is a particular concern this year as the Obama White House moves fully into election mode. The management of noncrisis foreign policy issues may drop off the priority list, while foreign travel may be limited and new and existing agreements shelved. The potential departure of key Asia-focused members of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would only exacerbate this sense of drift, with potentially profound consequences for the regional security environment. …