05/25/2006, 00.00
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US-Vietnam agreement soon, first step towards WTO membership

by Thanh Thao
If managed well, entry into World Trade Organisation could be the solution to Vietnam's many problems like unemployment.

HaNoi (AsiaNews) – A formal agreement between the United States and Vietnam easing the way for the Asian country to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the world market is near, this according to Karan Bhatia, Deputy US Trade Representative.

On May 14, the two countries had already reached a bilateral deal lowering tariffs on their respective exports and easing restrictions on investments in areas like telecommunications.

US-Vietnamese trade topped US$ 7.8 billion in 2005, a 400 per cent increase over 2001.

Concurrently, Vietnam has been engaged in economic talks with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organisation.

An APEC conference is in fact taking place in Vietnam itself on the issue of "Strengthening Economic Partnership for Sustainable and Equitable Development in the Asia-Pacific" region.

Pham Sanh Chau, who chairs the APEC's Secretariat, said that the purpose of the conference was to strengthen and promote for co-operation on economic development and investment, international coordination in the areas of tourism and culture, security, epidemic prevention, developing human resources, raising competition of small and medium sized companies, and APEC reform (to fight corruption).

According to economists, Vietnam's entry into the WTO would enable the average Vietnamese to understand what the global market is. However, expectations by the US Congress to see improvements in human rights remain an obstacle on Vietnam's path.

If managed well though, entry into World Trade Organisation could be the solution to many problems like unemployment.

Many young people are jobless. Many move to the big cities looking for employment, but for 90 per cent migration results in failure.

One company in Hai Duong province, la Sun Star Joint Stock Company, did hire 700 young people for its main plant and its Ho Chi Minh City branch, but such success stories are more the exception than the rule.

"Finding work is hard," a young man told AsiaNews. "I came to Ho Chi Minh City with my friends, about 20 or so, from the north, but what we see is discouraging."

"Those who can drink beer and gamble. Many get sucked into a life of petty crime or even criminal gangs. It is hard to develop constructive social and spiritual ties with others."

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