Trump discusses trade deficit with visiting Vietnam leader

GE signs $5.58 billion in power, aviation deals in Vietnam

While Vietnam has expressed interest in drone technology, P-3C Orions and the F-16 fighter jets for maritime surveillance, no arms deals have eventuated-something PM Phuc may seek to change on Wednesday.

"We have a major trade deficit with Vietnam, which will hopefully balance out in a short period of time".

This is an excellent opportunity for Vietnam to boost trade and investment relations with the United States, he said, adding that 80-90 Vietnamese businesses are accompanying the PM to seek new cooperation agreements.

Trump is due to travel to Vietnam to attend an Asia-Pacific economic summit in November.

The Oval Office meeting could be overshadowed by indications Trump will pull the United States out of a global climate agreement that commits nations to reducing carbon emissions.

"Vietnam will increase the import of high technologies and services from the United States, and on the occasion of this visit, many important deals will be made", Phuc told a US Chamber of Commerce dinner.

Phuc told Trump the relationship had undergone "significant upheavals in history", but that the two countries were now "comprehensive partners".

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed concern over the rapid growth of the US trade deficit with Vietnam, from almost 7 billion Dollars to about 32 billion USD in the past decade, saying that this is a new challenge for the two countries and he is expecting Phuc to address it.

In a statement issued on Tuesday Duy Hoang, a Washington-based spokesman for Viet Tan, a Vietnamese pro-democracy party with members inside Vietnam and around the world, said Phuc "comes to the White House following a crackdown against peaceful activists and citizen journalists in Vietnam".

The U.S. and Vietnam normalized ties in 1995, two decades after the Vietnam War's end.

But the relationship is now on uncertain ground.

"We would need to discuss together with the stakeholders to make sure that all parties will benefit from whatever action that we decide to take to ensure peace in this area", Mr Phuc said of the South China Sea.

Dr. Le Hong Hiep, a researcher at the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said the visit could help the two leaders form ties, and more importantly, it affords Vietnam a chance to learn about the US's economic and strategic plans towards the country, thereby further developing bilateral links in the near future. He told the chamber that deals for USA goods and services worth $15 billion to $17 billion would be signed during his visit.

General Electric Co (GE.N) said earlier it had signed deals with Vietnam worth about $5.58 billion for power generation, aircraft engines and services, its largest ever single combined sale with the country. The visit will be a display of reinvigorated ties between the former enemies and follows President Obama's historic visit to Hanoi previous year. His administration handed over six Coast Guard patrol boats to Vietnam and drew a rebuke from Beijing for conducting a so-called "freedom of navigation operation" near a China-claimed reef in disputed waters.

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