The country's economy is going through a crisis. Hanoi intends to increase exports to the US to balance imports from China. End of dependence on Beijing and freedom are the hopes the Vietnamese place in President Trump.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), summit at Đà Nẵng (6-11 November) in Central Vietnam, took place today in the presence of delegations from the 21 member countries.
US President Donald Trump, Chinese Xi Jinping and Russian Vladimir Putin took part in the eight major summit events, as well as 12,000 delegates, including 2,000 government officials and 5,000 businessmen. They discussed and approved the results that Co-operation has achieved in the last year and dictated the guidelines for the APC's Economic Forum scheduled for 2018. However, the attention of the Vietnamese and the Hanoi government was concentrated on the economic repercussions of the US President's visit to the country, today engaged in a series of official meetings.
As a host country, Vietnam has tried to make the most of the opportunity offered by the Apec Summit to mark a change of course in its economy. It is going through a difficult time since, according to the Ministry of Finance data, public debt could reach 65% of GDP in the two-year period 2017-2018. To emerge from this crisis, the Hanoi government is looking for investments and agreements with Western countries. In particular, it intends to increase exports to the US in order to balance the large quantity of goods that it imports every year from China.
The Vietnamese have placed a lot of hope in the summit, as described to AsiaNews by 72 year old Ms Nguyễn Thị Hường, a few days ahead of the opening: "First of all, the Vietnamese people want to get rid of political dependence and in the hope that President Trump will intervene to resolve disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea, according to international law. Secondly, we hope that the US head of state will work to ensure that the Vietnamese get freedom, democracy and the recognition of human rights. Hanoi must immediately release all prisoners of conscience, including the blogger Mẹ Nấm. Her daughter also wrote a letter to Trump's wife for the release of her mother and other inmates."
Economic relations between Vietnam and the US are at the heart of Hanoi's political agenda. In May 2017, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc went to Washington, where he signed agreements to "promote trade between the two countries." The Vietnamese government has bought some American Boeing aircraft and signed contracts to meet President Trump's request to reduce the huge trade surplus with the United States, up $ 29 billion in 2016. In return, Hanoi aims to increase American investments in Vietnam. In the first eight months of 2017, they accounted for only $ 370 million, 5% of South Korean invested capital. South Korea, after China, is the nation that has invested most in the country.
Yesterday morning, thousands of citizens of Đà Nẵng poured into the streets of the city to welcome the arrival of Trump, who in the evening addressed the APC in the framework of his Asian tour. Tens of millions of Vietnamese followed the US president’s speech live on television. He said "Today, I am here to suggest with you about new relations of the US’s partnership. Together, we work to strengthen the bonds of friendship and trade among all nations in the Indo-Pacific region, and together to promote our security and prosperity. Today we are no longer enemies but friends."
Addressing the entrepreneurs present, Trump said: "You must protect the development of your countries, which is your success. Our collaboration must depend on mutual trust. " "We must apply the principles of the law, respecting personal rights and freedom of movement and navigation - he added - We have to deal with the many dangers that threaten younger generations and children such as corruption, cyber security, and trafficking in human beings. We must work together for a prosperous and free Indo-Pacific region. " The US President also stressed the importance of the defense of "state sovereignty" and "maritime transport". Many Vietnamese applauded such statements and were moved when Trump quoted sisters Trưng and "Triệu" national heroines symbolizing Vietnamese women and resistance to Chinese domination (111 BC - 938 AD).
North Korean threat on agenda in meetings with leaders in Japan, South Korea, China. But also the balance of trade. Attempts to encircle Chinese economic power in talks with Hanoi and Manila. Overcoming the Asia-Pacific area, which now becomes "Indo-Pacific".
Past criticisms almost forgotten. Trump appreciates Beijing's commitment on North Korea and criticizes previous US administrations for the imbalance in trade. Contracts signed for over US $ 250 billion. The exclusive visit and Beijing Opera performance in the Imperial Palace. And even the (usually forbidden) use of Twitter.