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Visiting Vietnamese Leader: Economies 'More Complementary Than Competitive'

WASHINGTON – In his first visit to the United States as prime minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc touted a “very fruitful and successful meeting” today with President Trump – the same day news broke about American companies securing multi-billion dollar deals with the Asia-Pacific nation.

According to Reuters, General Electric recently secured a $5.5 billion deal with Vietnam for power generation and aircraft engine services, while Caterpillar Inc. recently unveiled plans to equip more than 100 Vietnamese generators with new technology. Following his discussion with Trump, Phuc cited the more than 850 American projects invested in Vietnam, representing a total value of more than $10 billion, which makes the U.S. the ninth largest foreign investor in Vietnam.

“We agreed on a range of collaborative actions to realize the twin objectives of growth and jobs beneficial to both sides,” Phuc said through a translator at the Heritage Foundation today. “We will encourage our businesses to form production and value chains and better connect our two markets in a way that would bring the most benefits to our people and to our businesses.”

While speaking at the White House, Trump lauded Vietnam for a “very large order in the U.S.” for “billions of dollars, which means jobs for the United States and great, great equipment for Vietnam.”

During his scheduled three-day visit, Phuc has participated in a series of meetings with major U.S. corporations in New York and members of the cabinet and politicians in Washington. Phuc said today that the U.S. and Vietnam have entered a new chapter with great opportunities for advanced cooperation.

“Our two economies are more complementary than competitive,” Phuc said, citing American imports of Boeing aircraft, electric engines, high-tech medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. He added that in 2016, Vietnam imports accounted for 1.5 million tons of corn, soybeans and wheat and half a million tons of cotton. The same year year, bilateral trade between the two nations grew to nearly $50 billion, he said.

Phuc also touched on the U.S.-China relationship, explaining that an extended period of peace in the region has allowed millions of Asians to lift themselves out of poverty. He called for continued stability between the two superpowers and in the region, quoting a Vietnamese proverb that says when buffaloes fight, the flies might get hurt. He also directed comment to Vietnamese Minister of Defense Ngô Xuân Lịch, who described U.S.-China as the most important relationship in the world today.

“We understand very well that the main driving force of this relationship is the interest of America and the interest of China,” Lich said. “And it is our desire that these interests would not impact but rather to help the interests of other nations in the region so that we can all live in harmony.”

Lich also called for the U.S. and China to collaborate with other nations like Vietnam – smaller nations that he said can contribute to peace in the region.

“It is our desire that the U.S.-China relationship continue to grow and serve the purpose of peace and stability in the region and serve the interests of all nations in this region, and we believe that a good China-U.S. relationship is beneficial to all of us,” Phuc added.