Vietnam still exists without the TPP

Nguyen Tran Bat, chairman of InvestConsult Group, talked with DTiNews about the local economy after US president-elect Donald Trump announced he would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Nguyen Tran Bat, chairman of InvestConsult Group

US President-elect Donald Trump has outlined his policies for first 100 days and said he would withdraw US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on day one. What do you think about this plan?

I think Trump has surprised many countries with his approach to protect US interests which are the complete opposite to what this country has promoted. Many people believe that he is wrong for not accepting the TPP but I don't think so. Different politicians have different approaches.

Trump's method is the opposite of the common promotion and propaganda which make us think about TPP as something really vital.

For a long time Vietnam's top priority has been exports. That's why we’ve always established relationships with countries to create economic spaces. TPP is an economic space designed by governments using definitions set out by the US Democratic Party.

However, even that party's members have different ideas about the TPP. Hillary Clinton also had very different ideas from Obama. But her ideas were more vague, not as precise as Trump's. Actually, there were already indications that the TPP might fail. The Vietnamese public and media must be patient, analytical and take a neutral ground to see things.

You said there were risks that the TPP might fail before, so you think the TPP won't be realised in the future?

TPP hasn't died because it's an idea, not an organisation. It can be started again under a different coalition and this depends on how long Donald Trump will be in office. Right now we don't have any worries, not even in relation to the TPP. We’re sure that we won't have the TPP, at least during Trump's term as president.

It's the minimum time for Trump to realise his very clear promise to his people which is bringing jobs back to the US. He has bargained with corporations. He has already worked to implement his ideas that's mean he has worked as the US president.

There are many people saying that Vietnam is the biggest winner from TPP because then we won't have to depend on China too much. What do you think?

No one, in this world, gives anything free to Vietnam, be it from the west or the east. Our benefits are somewhere in between these political and economic trends. The TPP is an economic space that hasn't even come true. Let's wait and see.

What'll happen in case other countries still pursue the TPP without the US?

It's like a body without a head. Remember that the US has ability to lead all economic spaces. Not many countries have that ability and TPP needs a powerful head.

There are forecasts that our economic growth will increase sharply with the TPP. How will Vietnam be affected without the agreement?

We’re still living right now without the TPP. Vietnam is aiming to replace China to become the world's factory because of rising wages. But Trump said he wanted to bring jobs back to the US despite the much higher wages.

So businesses are forced to move factories to China or Vietnam because western wages are too high is only one of many perceptions, we need something more basic. Globalism is a trend, we don't have the TPP, we'll have something else.

Trump's speeches actually marginally waver between globalism and protectionism. He is not a protectionist; he is a globalist with extreme cautions about American interests. He saw the unreasonable disparity between average workers and big businessmen.

You talked a lot about politics but I want to ask you something smaller from the economic viewpoint, what do our businesses need to do?

Be calm. No one dies without the TPP. And the public will get used to the fact that TPP can't "die" like I said. We'll still have close relationship with the American people. American people have come to visit Vietnam even before the US lifted the trade embargo on Vietnam.

I think we need at least six months to see who Donald Trump really is. How is he going to perform in politics, economics and diplomatic ties?

Read on the original site