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Published on May 29, 2024
Washington State Delegates Forge Deeper Trade Ties with Vietnam, Enhancing $3.5 Billion RelationshipSource: Unsplash/Rock Staar

Washington state has played a smart hand in international trade by fortifying its connections with Vietnam, known for being one of Southeast Asia's rapidly expanding economies. As the curtain fell on a recent trade mission, leaders from more than 10 counties within the state returned after a five-day mission aimed at bolstering ties and exploring business opportunities in tech, agriculture, and energy sectors. The result? Reinforcing the robust $3.5 billion two-way trade relationship. According to the Washington Office of the Governor, the entourage included reps from government, industry, and education.

Representing Gov. Jay Inslee were the directors of the Office of Financial Management, Department of Commerce, and Department of Agriculture, joining hands with other state officials for the mission stretching from April 8-12. They landed in Hanoi but wrapped their visit in Ho Chi Minh City, marking their journey with bilateral talks and visits to manufacturing hubs, as well as networking events that could make sure their SPF is set to face the heat from international competitors. With Vietnam as Washington's tenth-largest export market in 2023 for products like dairy and apples, it's clear why the state is pushing the pedal on these trade relationships.

Commerce Director Mike Fong emphasized the alignment of key sector growth priorities between the two regions, particularly in 'clean tech' and renewable energy, as "Vietnam is changing, and it’s a unique moment that offers many interesting pathways and connections for Washington," Fong told attendees at a business reception on April 8, as reported by the Washington Office of the Governor. The delegation's agenda was packed with events, including deep-dives into Vietnam's energy program and ICT partnerships, like the one explored with Viettel, Vietnam's telecom giant.

Led by Joseph Williams, Commerce’s ICT sector lead, conversations with Viettel were particularly noteworthy given the opportunity for both regions in the telecommunications market, despite the market share differential where Viettel boasts a 50% in Vietnam and Washington-based T-Mobile USA holds 20% stateside. Telling the delegation, Williams noted the market's dynamism and Viettel’s ambitions to craft their semiconductors. This aligns with broader U.S. strategies like the CHIPS Act outreach program and collaborations aiming to widen Vietnam's global semiconductor supply chain capabilities - Vietnam is already the third largest exporter of these to the U.S., a promising sign for potential tech synergies.