The first-ever agriculture trade mission to Vietnam is being led this week by acting Under Secretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse. He and fifteen U.S. companies representing a wide range of agricultural projects are promoting U.S. agriculture exports during their visit to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
"We look at countries where we believe that there will be opportunities for American agribusinesses to do trade," Scuse said. "When you look at Vietnam and you look at how fast this country's economy is growing and the opportunities that are here it just made sense to do a mission here to Vietnam and see what we could do to increase the trade between the two countries."
A few years ago Vietnam was the 49th largest trading partner of the U.S. but have now become the 15th largest trading partner. Scuse says the total bilateral trade in agriculture at this time is about $3.4 billion with about $1.5 billion of that in U.S. agricultural trade. He says the U.S. companies meetings with their Vietnamese counterparts have been very brisk.
"The meetings for the last several days have been nonstop," Scuse said. "We have 15 U.S. companies here that are meeting with about 150 Vietnamese companies and there has just been a tremendous amount of conversation between the two groups for trade."
On Monday Scuse met with government officials and discussed some of the trade issues that always crop up between trading partners.
"My conversation with the Vietnamese officials was a 'get to know you,' a face to face," Scuse said. "So that when we have issues, we know who we're dealing with, and both sides brought up some of the issues we're facing on bilateral trade so that we can have an open and honest discussion about how to resolve some of these things and move forward."
Scuse says he thinks that the trading future with Vietnam is very bright and that the chance for U.S. companies to sit down with their counterparts, getting to meet one another and look at what is important not just for today, but for tomorrow and next year.
"I think this mission has been very successful with what I've heard from the U.S. companies so far, both at the mission and at the Food and Hotel Vietnam Show," Scuse said. "I think that there are going to be some long term benefits from what we've done this week in Vietnam."
To listen to the complete interview use the audio player on this page.