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Vietnam, US sign WTO deal

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Vietnam and the United States officially signed here Wednesday a deal on the former's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO), paving the way for its membership late this year as expected.

The deal was inked by Vietnamese Deputy Trade Minister Luong Van Tu and U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Karan Bhatia on the eve of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade in the city.

U.S. Trade Representative-designate Susan Schwab, Chief Negotiator and Assistant Trade Representative Dorothy Dwoskin, and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan were present at the signing ceremony.

"Reaching the deal and the future U.S. Congressional approval for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Vietnam will be an event marking a new development in the relations between the two countries, and in the bilateral fair and win-win cooperation," Vietnamese Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen said at the signing ceremony held in the Reunification Palace in southern Ho Chi Minh City.

On behalf of Schwab, Bhatia read her speech, which says the conclusion of the bilateral talks between the United States and Vietnam has "cleared the way for Vietnam to join the WTO."

Before the signing ceremony, Khoan and Vietnamese Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen met with Schwab separately.

Vietnam is actively lobbying for the U.S. Congressional approval for the PNTR for the country, which hopefully takes place before the congress's summer season in August.

Tuyen has recently told reporters the 13th round of multilateral negotiations about Vietnam's entry to the WTO will be held in mid-July. He expressed the hope that it would be the last multilateral talks.

Vietnam on May 12 concluded the bilateral negotiations with theUnited States, the last of 28 partners which required bilateral talks, paving the way for the Southeast Asian nation to join the global trading club, after 11 years of bilateral and multilateral negotiations.

Under the deal, some three-fourths of U.S. farm products will be subject to Vietnam's import tariffs of 15 percent downward. They include fiber cotton, selected beef, grape, apple, peach, pear, soy-bean, pork and other kinds of meat. Up to 94 percent of U.S. manufactured goods will bear import tax rates of no more than15 percent, local newspaper Young People reported recently.

Also under the deal, Vietnam pledges to open up telecommunications, including satellite services, and distribution,financial and energy services, and allow the establishment of branches of foreign non-life insurance companies.


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