Joe Biden’s administration continues to seek trade and production alternatives abroad without boosting development within the United States. Now the target is Vietnam
Vietnam now presents itself as an alternative for the White House in the face of China’s escalation for world hegemony, which then President Donald Trump confronted severely during his term in office.
The Vietnamese country suffers from a notable shortage of highly skilled labor and its overburdened infrastructure limits its potential for international trade; however, Biden’s advisors, almost the same ones who served during Barack Husseim Obama’s tenure, focus on the once enemy nation of the US.
Also emerging on the geopolitical spectrum, as opposed to the anti-American and anti-Western BRICS bloc, is the Quad group: a strategic alliance between Australia, India, Japan and the United States.
Trump gave equal priority to this alliance and between 2017 and 2019 the group met five times, but the big difference is that the former president used this bloc for the purpose of weakening China’s influence and economy for the sake of strengthening that of North America. Hence one of his great successes, the energy independence achieved in 2019 when the US became the world’s largest oil producer over Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Joe Biden’s administration insists on seeking trade and production alternatives abroad without enhancing America’s own development. Vietnam is now the focus.
The current administration has also emphasized India as a strong option vis-à-vis China, while the U.S. economy appears as “solid” only in government institutions and in the left-wing mainstream media aligned to the White House.
Washington reported Friday that it agreed with India to settle its last pending dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO), as the presidents of the two countries met ahead of the G20 summit.
The agreement, concerning India’s import of U.S. agricultural products, came as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted Joe Biden in New Delhi.
“The agreement resolves a long-standing dispute and opens a new chapter of bilateral cooperation that deepens the U.S.-India trade relationship,” the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said.
The dispute involved poultry and, in particular, India’s restrictions on the import of certain U.S. agricultural products due to concerns about avian influenza.
As part of the agreement, India agreed to reduce tariffs on some products such as frozen turkey and duck, as well as fresh cranberries and blueberries.
The tariff cuts will boost economic opportunities for U.S. producers in a “critical market,” USTR said in a statement.
In June, the two countries agreed to conclude six WTO disputes, with India consenting to reduce tariffs on products such as chickpeas and lentils.
While President Donald Trump left the country’s inflation rate at 1.4% in 2020, despite the heavy impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden took it upon himself to drive it to 9.1% in 2022 and American consumers continue to pay doubled and even tripled prices since 2021, as a result of failed White House economic policies on climate change, extreme spending, funding the war in Ukraine and attacking American oil companies.
The dizzying rise in the prices of almost all products and consumer goods, services, insurance and other costs of living have created chaos in the economy in just two and a half years of Democratic rule: record and tenacious inflation for nearly three years, a mortgage recession with 13 months of plummeting sales and purchases, a historic rise in interest rates, a 10-month contraction in manufacturing activity, a record trade deficit in 2021 and 2022 of nearly a trillion dollars, the number of job vacancies reached 11.9 million along with a labor crisis, plus public debt approaching $22 trillion, a southern border crisis that has doubled spending in Washington and state governments bordering Mexico, and a 90% funded war (over $150. 150 billion) in Ukraine at the expense of taxpayers, who are already beleaguered by all the internal crises in the country under the power of the left and the extreme left.
In summary, the fateful consequences have been borne by the vast majority of Americans with a severely diminished standard of living and purchasing power far below traditional U.S. values for decades.
These negative indicators are not fixed by adding other nations’ problems to the U.S. economy.
Biden travels to Hanoi on Sunday for a quick visit, in a context of increased economic cooperation.
Vietnam has become a popular destination for some of the world’s largest companies, such as Samsung and Foxconn, which are looking to diversify their production chains in the face of tensions between Beijing and Washington.
In an industrial zone in the port city of Haiphong (north), Ko Tae yeon underlines the limit of Vietnamese growth, expected at 6.3% in 2023 according to the World Bank.
“I foresee a shortage of highly skilled labor,” explains the general director of Heesung Electronics Vietnam, which produces panel components for South Korea’s LG.
“Foreign investors are turning to high-tech industries, but the number of schools training engineers is very low,” he laments.
The Vietnamese government hopes Biden’s visit will strengthen economic and technological ties between the two countries. It is counting on the US to consider Vietnam as a key partner in reducing its dependence on China for manufacturing products and essential components.
“If Vietnam wants to continue to attract investment to create opportunities for wealth and growth, the country must move up the ladder,” warns Adam Sitkoff, head of the US chamber of commerce in Hanoi.
According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, only 11% of the domestic workforce is skilled.
In Ho Chi Minh City alone, the economic capital of the south of the country, there is a shortage of 165,000 skilled workers for the second half of the year, according to the city’s authorities.
And the question is quite simple: why look outside the United States and to a developing country for what is surplus within North America in the form of highly skilled labor and sufficient resources?
The foreign policy of the current administration goes hand in hand with the domestic chaos created by the left and far left in the Biden-Obama agenda, coupled with the massive spending of royalties to governments and international institutions without detailing the burden of the war in Ucerania imposed on U.S. taxpayers.
Vietnam, a country with an obsolete and inadequate infrastructure
In addition to insufficient manpower, Vietnam’s infrastructure is inadequate for the development of the country of 100 million people, amid overcrowded roads and power outages at the peak of demand during the dry season.
Transportation costs in the region are highest in Vietnam, where there are relatively few highways, according to an August World Bank report.
The country also suffered power outages in May and June, when demand soared due to the heat wave. These outages cost the country about $1.4 billion, according to the institution.
Businesses in northern Vietnam report losses of up to 10% of their revenue.
“It was predictable. Vietnam does not have the means to sustain this growth,” Sitkoff stresses.
Vietnam attracted about $18 billion in foreign investment during the first eight months of 2023, 8% more than in the same period last year, according to the Hanoi-based Foreign Investment Agency.
Samsung Electronics, the country’s largest foreign investor, opened a $220 million research and development center last year, its largest headquarters in Southeast Asia.
But how to take advantage of these opportunities,” asks Nguyen Anh Tuan, deputy director general of the foreign investment agency.
The country is focusing on training a more skilled workforce in new technologies, semiconductors and energy, easing admission procedures, while remaining competitive in the region, he says.
“We are no longer looking for cheap labor,” he says, and young Vietnamese aspire to better pay in a country where the average salary is about $300 a month.
The question of costs is central. For the moment, “Vietnam is still competitive,” says Matt Kantrud, CEO of Northstar Precision, an automotive subcontractor building a second factory there (at $40 million), the only country where the company has a presence besides China.
Latin America in the last decade has developed its sources of youth advancement, becoming an important supplier of skilled labor, which Biden and Obama’s advisors seem to be ignoring and focusing on Asia, with a culture very different from that of the West, the great obstacle of remoteness and other restrictions and instability that increase year by year.
The COVID-19 pandemic confirmed that the United States not only needs to reduce its dependence on China as much as possible and gradually, but also on other countries.
The central objective, as well defined by President Trump, is to bring back the productive potential of the United States to North America and for the most powerful nation on the planet to manufacture more than 70% of its real needs, while at the same time boosting exports of domestic products. All of the above means moving away from a purely consumer economy and developing industrialization as it was in previous decades.
And while it is true that some resources and raw materials are needed from abroad, the margin should not be high in search of the accelerated development that the U.S. economy needs at this time to leave behind global dependence and have a globally interrelated platform, but with a level of independence that allows it to weather any debacle from abroad with few difficulties.
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