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Media Contact Name/Phone: 

In Vietnam - Lauren Verdery (202) 320-2643, In Washington, D.C. - Marianna Ohe (202) 565-3200

The United States is eager to promote U.S. exports to and investment in Vietnam as this important Asian market opens its doors wider to the global economy, D. Vanessa Weaver, a member of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), told students today at the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City.

We are eager to build our partnership with Vietnam. We believe it's good for both of our nations, Weaver told students, graduate fellows and faculty at the university during a three-day business development mission to Vietnam.

Normalization of U.S.-Vietnam trade relations, Vietnam's commitment to a three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment program, and the government's pledge to renew pro-market reforms create an opportunity for U.S. exporters and investors to become more engaged in the Vietnamese market, Weaver said. Noting the Vietnamese economy's impressive growth averaging 8 percent per year before the 1997-1999 Asian financial crisis, she predicted growth of at least 5 percent per year for Vietnam during the next few years.

Ex-Im Bank financing can help U.S. businesses and banks create opportunities for Vietnamese companies to buy the U.S. products and services they need to excel in the 21st Century, Weaver said. She added that reform of Vietnam's banking and legal systems as well as foreign exchange liberalization should further attract foreign investment and Ex-Im Bank support for U.S. exports to Vietnam.

Ex-Im Bank opened in Vietnam in 1998. Last year the U.S. Congress and the Government of Vietnam ratified the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, which commits Vietnam to provide U.S. goods with preferential tariff rate status and adopt other market reforms.

In 2000, U.S. exports to Vietnam totaled $367 million, a 26 percent increase over 1999, and that was before the bilateral trade agreement was ratified. The potential for further growth is very much present, Weaver said. We see particular growth in aircraft, oil and gas field machinery and services, medical equipment, safety and security equipment, and education and training.

Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal government agency that helps finance the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets, by providing loans, guarantees and export credit insurance. In fiscal year 2001, Ex-Im Bank authorized financing to support $12.5 billion of U.S. exports worldwide