US-ASEAN Business Council Welcomes USTR Decision to Not Impose Tariffs on Vietnam Section 301 Investigation

(Washington, DC) On January 15, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a report on the Section 301 investigation into Vietnam’s currency practices. The report details USTR’s findings of the investigation, concluding that Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to currency valuation are unreasonable and burden American commerce. While USTR’s investigation supports a finding that Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices are actionable under section 301 of the Trade Act, the report did not include any recommended actions or tariff guidelines.

The US-ASEAN Business Council welcomes USTR’s decision to not announce or implement tariffs and defer any actions to the incoming Biden administration for further consideration. Council Chairman, President and CEO Alexander C. Feldman, on behalf of the Council and its members, testified at the December 29, 2020 USTR hearing on the currency valuation practices and submitted associated written comments to USTR.

In his written and oral testimony, Mr. Feldman advocated for USTR to suspend its 301 investigation on currency until the U.S. Treasury Department’s negotiations with the Vietnamese Government have reached an outcome in accordance with the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. Treasury, he argued, has the subject matter expertise on currency and should be given every opportunity to work to resolve the specific issues around currency manipulation with the Vietnamese. As a result, USTR has given Treasury and the incoming Biden Administration the time to engage the Government of Vietnam on ways which could resolve differences and provide further market opening opportunities for American business in the months ahead.

“We applaud Ambassador Robert Lighthizer’s decision not to take action or impose unilateral tariffs on Vietnam at this time and to allow USTR, Treasury, and the Biden Administration to work with the Government of Vietnam to find a path forward that hopefully benefits American companies, American workers and Vietnam,” said Mr. Feldman. “A strong U.S.-Vietnam partnership is not only vital to U.S. national economic and geopolitical interests, but also has significant effects on our strategic relationships with other countries in the Indo-Pacific. Vietnam is an important partner for the United States in ASEAN as well as a growing market for American exports and increasingly an important part of global supply chains for American companies.”

Looking ahead, the Council will work with the new USTR and Biden Administration to discuss further recommendations on this issue and the way forward to strengthen US-Vietnam relations.

########################################################################################

For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.