FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Feb. 6, 1996
Top Vietnamese official visits Seattle
on first stop of U.S. tour
Seattle -- Deputy Prime Minister
Nguyen Khahn, the highest ranking official of the Socialist Republic
of Vietnam ever to travel to Seattle, concludes his historic three-day
visit today. Khahn arrived in Seattle Saturday (Feb. 3) on the
first leg of a journey that also includes stops in Washington,
D.C., New York, and Boston.
Gov. Mike Lowry, who in September led the first U.S. trade mission
to Vietnam since normalization of diplomatic relations, said Khahn's
visit marks a significant step in the evolving relationship between
Washington state and Vietnam.
"Washington's Vietnamese-American community is 60,000 strong,"
Lowry said. "Our cultural bonds to Vietnam and our drive
to excel in the new global market make Washington state a natural
link to the Vietnamese market.
During his September visit to Hanoi, Lowry and Vietnamese Trade
Minister Le Van Triet signed a landmark agreement to establish
an ad hoc working group that will develop new economic and trade
relations between Vietnam and Washington state. The agreement
was the first of its kind between Vietnam and any U.S. state.
Lowry said the fact that Seattle was the first stop on Khahn's
itinerary highlights Washington state's position as the gateway
to Vietnam. According to Bob Randolph, the governor's special
trade representative, Washington does more international trade
per capita than any other state.
"The deputy prime minister's visit to Seattle underscores
Washington's vast potential as America's cultural and economic
gateway to Vietnam," Randolph said. "Washington's ports
are a day and a half closer sailing to Asia than are California
ports. With products that Vietnam needs, such as aircraft, apples
and software, Washington state is well positioned to become one
of Vietnam's major trading partners."
Randolph added that great potential exists for increasing trade
between Vietnam and Washington state. In 1994, 38 percent of all
two-way trade between the Vietnam and the United States was shipped
through Washington state ports. During the first nine months of
last year, Washington's exports to Vietnam increased by 550 percent
over the same period in 1994.
Khahn is one of three deputy prime ministers under Vietnamese
Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet. With overall responsibility for science,
technology, and education, Khahn is currently responsible for
the development of a high-technology infrastructure in Vietnam.
From the late 1970s until 1987, Khahn served as director of the
General Office of the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist
Party. Prior to assuming his current position in 1992, Khahn was
the vice chairman and secretary general of the Council of Ministers.
In Seattle, the deputy prime minister's discussions with Washington
trade officials were aimed at increasing trade and technology
transfer between the two countries. In addition to Randolph, the
meetings included Mike Fitzgerald, director of the state office
of Community, Trade and Economic Development; state Rep. Velma
Veloria; Mic Dinsmore, executive director of the Port of Seattle;
and representatives of leading Washington high-technology companies.
For more information, contact Bob Randolph or Deborah Wilkinson,
Office of the Special Trade Representative, at (206) 464-7143.