August 3, 1999
The Administration strongly opposes H.J.Res. 58, which would disapprove the extension of a waiver of the Jackson-Vanik freedom of emigration requirements with respect to Vietnam. On June 3rd, President Clinton determined that continuation of the Jackson-Vanik waiver would substantially promote greater freedom of emigration in Vietnam in the future. This determination was based on Vietnam's improved performance over the past year on emigration and on its continued and increased cooperation on U.S. refugee programs. The Administration urges the Congress to defeat H.J.Res. 58 for the reasons explained below.
The Administration's policy since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995 has been to work with Vietnam to normalize incrementally our bilateral political, economic, and consular relationship. U.S. engagement helps promote the development of a prosperous Vietnam integrated into world markets and regional organizations, which, in turn, helps contribute to regional stability. In addition, U.S. involvement has secured Vietnamese cooperation and engagement on a range of important U.S. policy goals, including achieving the fullest possible accounting of POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War. It is in the national interest for this progress to continue.
While the Administration remains concerned about Vietnam's human rights practices and continues to urge improved respect for human rights, worker rights, and the rule of law, our engagement, along with that of others, has produced some improvements. These include increased openness, modest relaxation of restrictions on personal liberty and religious worship, greater toleration of public criticism, and release of a number of prisoners of conscience.
A Jackson-Vanik waiver is a prerequisite for Normal Trade Relations (NTR), but would not confer NTR on Vietnam. Before Vietnam can receive NTR, Congress must approve a bilateral trade agreement, which the Administration has been negotiating and which has recently been agreed to in principle. Extension of the waiver, however, will allow U.S. businesses operating in Vietnam to continue to make use of U.S. Government programs supporting U.S. exports to and investments in Vietnam. U.S. business views Vietnam, the twelfth most populous country in the world, as an important potential market.
Since March 1998 when the Jackson-Vanik waiver was first granted, it has been an essential component of the Administration's policy of engagement and has directly furthered progress with Vietnam on a number of U.S. policy goals. The extension of the waiver this year will continue to advance U.S. national interests in Vietnam.