New Us-vietnam Agreement Shows Growth, Challenges....

Discussion in 'Indo Pacific & East Asia' started by Zebra, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 18, 2011
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    By Aaron Mehta 7:18 a.m. EDT June 1, 2015

    HANOI — The US and Vietnam signed a defense agreement Monday, a document which officials hope will grow the military relationship between the two nations and will eventually lead to co-production of military equipment.

    The Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations was signed at a ceremony by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Vietnamese Defence MInister Gen. Phung Quang Tranh.

    "Following last year's decision by the United States to partially lift the ban on arms sales to Vietnam, our countries are now committed, for the first time, to operate together, to step up our defense trade, and to work toward co-production," Carter said in remarks.

    The statement is nonbinding, and the Pentagon sometimes feels like a factory dedicated to producing such documents.

    But a US official, speaking on background due to the sensitive nature of negotiations, characterized the agreement as a big deal, in part because it updates the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding that has been the guidelines for the US-Vietnamese military relationship to reflect new changes.

    The Vietnamese, the official said, hew closely to such documents, and pushing for anything not included in the 2011 MOU would effectively be a non-starter. Hence, the new language opens new avenues on defense issues, including the option of co-production of military equipment in the future.

    The agreement explicitly calls to "expand defense trade between our two countries, potentially including cooperation in the production of new technologies and equipment, where possible under current law and policy restrictions."

    Getting there won't be quick, the official warned, but it is a potential watermark for any defense industry players who look at the regional market and hope to exploit the growing split between Beijing and Hanoi.

    Vietnam buys more than 90 percent of its defense materiel from Russia. The offer of co-production is hence a win-win for both sides. The US can expand its defense industrial reach while also chipping at some of the foreign military control of Russia, while Vietnam can wean itself off of a sole-source provider for its gear.

    In the meantime, both sides are looking for potential sales of equipment. That is set to become easier, with the US Senate's top official, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ready to introduce a bill to lower restrictions on arms sales to Vietnam.

    That follows an executive order from the Obama administration in October that eased other restrictions......

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