Vietnam Set for WTO Membership

Vietnam passed a final hurdle in its quest for membership in the World Trade Organization. According to the WTO, the “finishing touches to Vietnam’s membership package” are complete, and the documents now go before the General Council, scheduled to meet November 7 for the vote.

Vietnam’s accession would bring the WTO membership to 150 member countries.

On May 31, 2006, the U.S. and Vietnam signed a bilateral market access agreement that was needed as a critical step on Vietnam’s road to WTO accession. The President this summer submitted the agreement to Congress, which now has to consider legislation to grant Vietnam permanent normal trade relations.

The outcome is still a bit murky. Some U.S. politicians from textile and garment areas were bashing the agreement until President Bush assured them that the U.S. may take antidumping action against Vietnam in the clothing area. Retailers, who see themselves paying higher duties (and raising the prices for consumers), don’t want that to happen.

In early October, the European Union slapped custom duties on leather shoes imported from China and Vietnam.