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Vietnam minister says president’s resignation has not affected policies


By David Brunnstrom and Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said on Tuesday the resignation of the communist-ruled country’s second president in little over a year has not affected Hanoi’s foreign and economic policies, given its collective leadership and policymaking.

Asked during a visit to the United States about Vo Van Thuong’s resignation last week, Son told Washington’s Brookings Institution think tank Vietnam was undergoing an anti-corruption campaign that has been welcomed by the international community and businesses.

“The resignation of the president I think in Vietnam has not affect(ed) our foreign policy as well as our own policies of economic development,” he said.

“If you look at the situation in Vietnam, we have collective leadership, we have collective foreign policy. We have collective-decided economic development.”

Son cited Communist Party congresses held every five years where economic development plans are set out and agreed among party leaders. “And I think (if) one or two figures in the leadership has resigned, (it) does not change this situation.”

Son, who held talks in Washington on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and USAID Administrator Samantha Power, said Vietnam hopes Washington will soon recognize it as a market economy.

The U.S. currently considers Vietnam a ‘non-market economy’ in import injury cases, which can lead to significantly higher anti-dumping duties and Hanoi’s ambassador to Washington warned this year that maintaining the resulting punitive duties on Vietnamese goods is bad for increasingly close bilateral ties.Son said the United States and Vietnam should boost economic trade and investment cooperation after agreeing a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership last year.

“We should focus on supply chain resilience, infrastructure connectivity, digital economy, energy, green economy and logistics,” he said.

Thuong’s resignation has raised questions about stability in Vietnam, given he was only elected last year after the sudden dismissal of his predecessor.

With accumulated foreign direct investment higher than its gross domestic product, Vietnam’s stability is crucial to multinationals with large operations in the Southeast Asian manufacturing hub, including U.S. firm Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which has many key suppliers in the country.

That stability, which has been guaranteed for decades by a state tightly controlled by the Communist Party, now looks less certain, analysts say, although they agree the current leadership changes will not impact the country’s key policies, including its “bamboo diplomacy” aimed at keeping good relations with the United States and China at the same time.

Son said Vietnam sought good relations with all major powers and welcomed ongoing efforts to stabilize relations between the United States and China.

(This story has been corrected to say ‘second president in little over a year,’ not third, in paragraph 1)

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