Political analyst Alexander Vuving from the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies said the Trump administration attaches importance to promoting ties with Vietnam in light of the country’s strategic role in Asia.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed concern over the rapid growth of the US trade deficit with Vietnam, from nearly US$7 billion to about US$32 billion in the past decade, saying that this is a new challenge for the two countries and he is expecting Phuc to address it.
“This concerning growth in our trade deficit presents new challenges and shows us that there is considerable potential to improve further our important trade relationship”, he said.
Lighthizer and other Trump administration trade officials have pledged to work to reduce US bilateral trade deficits with major trading partners.
Senior advisor and Southeast Asia Director at the Washington D.C-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Murray Hiebert said Vietnam wants to get a reading on how the Trump administration plans to engage the region economically after the President declared to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which Vietnam would have been a major beneficiary.
Dr. Le Hong Hiep, a researcher at the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said the visit could help the two leaders form ties, and more importantly, it affords Vietnam a chance to learn about the US’s economic and strategic plans towards the country, thereby further developing bilateral links in the near future. High on the agenda will be economy and national defence-security.
Through the visit, Vietnam could gain an insight into President Trump’s policies and stance on Southeast Asia and East Asia, particularly the East Sea issue.