A garment worker prepares shirts for shipment in a factory in Hanoi, Vietnam. Vietnam seeks to move up the industrial value chain as some manufacturing leaves China.
For the past two decades, Vietnam has leveraged its strategic location as the gateway to Indochina to become one of the biggest success stories in the Asia-Pacific. This position has allowed it to largely remain neutral among great power competitions over the years, which continues to serve to its benefit today as now the top export "safe haven" from the U.S.-China trade war. This, however, has come at the cost of ramping up its trade deficit with the United States, which has threatened to retaliate should Hanoi not increase its purchases of American goods and services -- a warning the U.S. trade representative reiterated on July 29, noting the "host of unfair trade barriers" that U.S. businesses face upon entering the Vietnamese market. Desperate to avoid coming under the siege of a trade salvo, Vietnam has used every opportunity to remind Washington of its value as a foil to China. Such words, however, hold only...
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