Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New US-Vietnam Agreement Shows Growth, Challenges

New US-Vietnam Agreement Shows Growth, Challenges: 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 Thanh.

"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.