Vietnam, whose low-wage economy relies on exports, is likely to be the biggest winner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that slashes an estimated 18,000 tariffs among the dozen participating countries.
In a decade, the country’s gross domestic product will be boosted 11 percent, or $36 billion, as
a result of the world’s largest trade pact. Exports may soar 28 percent in the period as companies
move factories to the Southeast Asian country. Here’s what analysts and economists say about
Vietnam’s economic prospects and challenges under the deal.
How is Vietnam an important player in the accord?
Vietnam is a significant player in President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia. The economic and
political relationship between the former enemies is now at its warmest, 40 years since the end of
the war. Vietnam’s relationship with China, it’s largest trading partner, has been strained since
its neighbor moved an oil rig off Vietnam’s coast last year. Both the U.S. and Vietnam would
like to see the Southeast Asian nation less reliant on China, which is not a party to the trade
Which sectors of Vietnam’s economy will gain most from TPP?
Reduced import duties in the U.S. and Japan will benefit the country’s apparel manufacturers,
whose low labor costs have enabled them to grab business from China. Vietnam may have a 50
percent increase in apparel and footwear exports in 10 years, according to the Eurasia Group.
The country’s seafood industry will benefit from the elimination of import taxes on shrimp,
squid and tuna, now averaging 6.4 percent-7.2 percent. Vietnam will still face strict rules-of-
origin on materials, which could limit some of the treaty’s benefits to the garment and textile
What does the trade deal mean for foreign companies in Vietnam?
The ending of tariffs for Vietnamese products is likely to trigger more investment from foreign
companies. Companies such as Texhong Textile Group Ltd., Shenzhou International Group
Holdings Ltd. and Pacific Textiles Holdings Ltd. are relocating operations to Vietnam to take
advantage of the trade agreement.
What will this mean for investor sentiment in Vietnam?
The signing of the agreement is expected to give a short-term boost to the broader market.
Vietnam’s benchmark stock index has risen 4.9 percent this week, with foreign investors
snapping up logistics, industrial parks, fisheries and garments. Foreign investors have bought
$41.8 million of Vietnamese stocks this week, poised to be net buyers after selling Vietnamese
stocks earlier in the month. More FDI is expected into these sectors.
Which sectors in Vietnam are vulnerable under the trade pact?
Vietnam’s agricultural industry, particularly livestock, are expected to struggle to compete
against global companies that have economies of scale and operate more efficiently. Eliminating
import taxes on pharmaceutical products from the current average of about 2.5 percent will lead
to tougher competition between Vietnamese and foreign companies. TPP will also increase
patent protection, restricting Vietnam companies access to new products as well their ability to
produce new drugs.
Will this have an effect on government economic policy?
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has called for a restructuring of the country’s
agriculture sector to help it compete with multinationals. The pact is also pressuring Vietnam to
reform state-owned companies and make institutional changes.
What are the risks for Vietnam if the accord fails?
The agreement still needs to be passed by the governments of the 12 nations. The failure of TPP
would undercut those in Vietnam advocating closer ties to the U.S. and dent America’s influence
in the region. Vietnam, which successfully negotiated trade deals with the European Union and
South Korea earlier this year, is aggressively seeking economic partners to balance its
relationship with China. The failure of TPP would leave Vietnam more economically isolated
and dependent on China.