On August 8, Fulbright University Vietnam in coordination with U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City hosted a conference to celebrate 27 years of normalized diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S. at the Independence Palace, Ho Chi Minh City.

The event gathered a number of senior officials, senior researchers and experts with extensive knowledge of Vietnam-U.S. relationship. Given the fact that the world is facing a lot of uncertainties with intensifying U.S.-China rivalry, the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. is entering a new chapter, bringing both opportunities and challenges for Vietnam and the ASEAN region as a whole.

The two countries have gone very far since the day U.S. President Bill Clinton and Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet announced the normalization of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S. in 1995. The bilateral relationship has made incredible progress, turning former foes to Comprehensive partners.

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper delivers his opening remarks. 

In his opening remarks, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper said the present bilateral relationship is the result of hard work by countless Americans and Vietnamese who have set aside their differences and have worked together to face the legacies of war, forming the firm foundation on which the two countries moved far beyond initial areas of cooperation to today’s partners with a friendship anchored in mutual trust and mutual respect.

As the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, I’m committed to continuing to address the legacies of war through programs and partnerships that survey and clear unexploded mines and ordnance so that land can be returned to agricultural use or reused for new schools and playgrounds. I’m committed to continued effort to account for soldiers killed and missing for both sides. I’m committed to continue our efforts to remediate dioxin and to assist persons with disabilities,” he said.

In regard to the outstanding achievements of the bilateral relationship, Ambassador Knapper highlighted the spectacular development of trade and investment ties as the bilateral trade turnover has hit over US$113 billion from zero in 1995. According to the Ambassador, equally impressive as trade and investment ties has been the growth of the two countries’ people-to-people ties, especially in education.

Approximately 30,000 young Vietnamese study in the United States at all levels from high school, grad school to postdoc programs. In Southeast Asia, no country sends more students to the United States than does Vietnam. In fact, Vietnam currently constitutes the sixth largest sender of foreign students to the U.S. behind giants like India, China, South Korea,” he noted.

According to the Ambassador, the world class education that Vietnamese students receive at American institutions helps to bolster Vietnamese competitiveness worldwide, as well as contributes to Vietnam’s thriving and increasingly innovative economy. “Vietnamese students also have the opportunity to get a world quality education right here in Ho Chi Minh City at Fulbright University Vietnam, which is the first independent, not-for-profit U.S. affiliated university in Vietnam,” he said.

At the height of COVID-19, the bilateral strong ties were once again proved with medical assistance the two countries gave to one another. Ambassador Knapper said Vietnam generously provided the United States with much needed masks and personal protective equipment which saved countless U.S. lives in 2020, and in turn, the U.S. provided close to 40 million vaccine doses as well as US$13 million worth of technical assistance and medical equipment to Vietnam.

As we write the next chapter of our two countries’ relationship, the United States and Vietnam will continue to stand with one another, as we work to address a range of challenges in the Mekong region throughout ASEAN and in the Indo Pacific writ large, including issues as diverse as regional security, the climate crisis, clean energy, wildlife and drug trafficking, transnational crime, and global health security,” he remarked.

The day-long conference consisted of three panel sessions with insightful analysis of the two countries’ cooperation in security areas, the development of people-to-people ties and the prospects for economic and trade cooperation.

Acting Consul General at the U. S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City Robert Greenan delivers his closing remarks. 

In the coming years, the United States and Vietnam must stay focused on the future and build on our past successes to explore new areas of cooperation from cybersecurity, education, to clean energy and defense,” Mr. Robert Greenan – Acting Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City – said in his closing remarks.

Thuy Hang