Vietnam Explicitly Warns US of Costs of Non-Ratification of Trade Deal
Vietnam will have to review the Most Favoured Nation status accorded to the United States if Congress does not move to ratify a landmark trade deal between the former foes, Trade Minister Vu Khoan warned Friday.
"We were very flexible in providing the US with MFN pending negotiation and ratification of the agreement," said Khoan who signed the deal in Washington last July in the presence of then US President Bill Clinton.
"If this agreement will not be ratified, we have to consider once again this problem."
Khoan said he did want to deal in threats and would like the relationship between the former foes to be free of pressure from either side.
"This agreement beings benefits to both sides," he said. "I don't think that pressure is a good way to deal with each other ... I think it's time to work together to rectify this."
The new US administration of President George Bush has yet to bring the trade deal before Congress for ratification amid mounting US criticism of Vietnam's human rights record.
Emigre dissidents and religious leaders explicitly called on Congress to block ratification at a special hearing on Vietnam held by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in February.
In the event the commission stopped short of calling for non-ratification, instead urging Washington to withdraw its support for most lending from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and urging US Secretary of State Colin Powell to raise the issue of religious freedoms during a planned visit here in July -- HANOI (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)