US President Joe Biden announced a series of semiconductor, aerospace and infrastructure deals with business leaders in Vietnam, part of a push by the White House to deepen economic integration with Indo-Pacific nations that can provide a bulwark to China.
(Bloomberg) — US President Joe Biden announced a series of semiconductor, aerospace and infrastructure deals with business leaders in Vietnam, part of a push by the White House to deepen economic integration with Indo-Pacific nations that can provide a bulwark to China.
Biden touted a “new stage” in the ties between the two countries to a meeting of officials and with executives from Vietnam and top US firms including Boeing Co., Intel Corp. and Marvell Technology Inc. in Hanoi. “My message today is quite simple: Let’s keep it up,” he said.
The announcements are intended to solidify Vietnam’s decision a day earlier to upgrade its relationship with the US to a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” the same designation it uses for China and India. The hope in Washington is that by boosting ties with nations in Southeast Asia, the US can increase its influence in a region that sometimes chafes at Beijing’s assertiveness.
Headlining the deal announcements was a memorandum of understanding between Vietnam Airlines JSC and Boeing to purchase 50 737-MAX aircraft, a tentative agreement that would be valued around $7.88 billion and allow the carrier to eventually replace aging Airbus AE-A321 planes. Any delivery could be years off, however, as Boeing has sold out most of its production slots through the end of the decade.
Read more: Vietnam Air, Boeing Near $10 Billion Deal for 737 Max Jets
Vietnam had previously announced plans by US-based Amkor Technology Inc. to build a $1.6 billion factory in Bac Ninh province, while Synopsis Inc. and Marvell Technology are both working to establish semiconductor design centers in Vietnam.
The Biden Administration has prioritized improving the semiconductor supply chain over concern the US has become too closely reliant on Taiwan’s semiconductor industry.
Technology firms including Microsoft Corp. and Nvidia Corp. announced new programs to make emerging artificial intelligence programs more accessible to Vietnamese businesses, while Meta Platforms Inc. unveiled a new effort to help small and medium businesses in the country use digital tools. Apple Inc. has also expanded its footprint in Vietnam as it diversifies its supply chain beyond China.
Read More: Vietnam PM Fighting for Future as Economy Lags Growth Target
Other announcements focused on traditional infrastructure. The US president has increasingly sought to promote US financing for projects in the developing world to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, including a new rail, natural gas and fiber corridor announced earlier this week at the G-20 summit in New Delhi that would link India to Europe through the Middle East.
Read More: India’s G-20 Win Shows US Learning How to Counter China Rise
In Vietnam, SSA Marine Inc. announced it would partner with Vietnam’s Gemadept Corp. on a proposal for a $6.7 billion port and logistics center in southern Vietnam. Massachusetts-based Australis Aquaculture LLC signed a memorandum of understanding to spend $100 million to expand its operations in Van Phong Bay.
And one announcement was focused on the future of Vietnamese money – literally.
Crane NXT Co. announced its plans to partner with Vietnam’s Hi-Tech Polymer Co. Ltd. to develop the next generation of bank notes for the State Bank of Vietnam.
Future commercial deals with Vietnam may become even more possible after the US pledged to review Vietnam’s formal request to review its market economy status. A favorable review by US authorities could decrease duties on some imports from Vietnam.
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