Vietnam considers CPTPP-level tariff cuts on U.S. ag products

File photo of street food on display in Hue, Vietnam. (RomanBabakin/iStock/Getty Images)

Hanoi | Reuters — Vietnam is considering cutting tariffs on several U.S. products, the ministry of finance said in a statement on Monday, after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged Vietnam to reduce its trade surplus during a visit to Hanoi last month.

Tariffs on chicken and processed chicken meat, almonds, grapes, wheat, pork and potatoes are all earmarked for reductions, in order to rebalance bilateral trade, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Vietnam has emerged as one of the largest beneficiaries of the trade spat between Washington and Beijing but it is concerned that it could be U.S. President Donald Trump’s next target.

Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States hit US$38.4 billion in the first 10 months of 2019, up 33.66 per cent from a year ago, customs data showed.

The Southeast Asia country is at risk of being labelled a currency manipulator by the Washington because of its trade surplus with the country, a highly positive current account balance and because its central bank has been quite active in terms of net foreign exchange purchases.

The statement said the ministry has proposed reducing the tariff on chicken to 18 per cent from 20, while the United States is expecting to see it cut to 14.5 per cent next year and eliminated in 2028.

“This tariff cut is in line with our commitment in the first year of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP),” the ministry said.

“The proposed rate of the U.S. will be taken into consideration.”

CPTPP member countries, including Canada, have received favourable tariff rate access to the Vietnamese market through the multilateral trade pact, which continued without the U.S. after Trump exited the partnership in 2017. The CPTPP pact came into force in Vietnam in mid-January this year.

Import tariffs on fresh apples and grapes from the U.S. are expected to be cut to eight per cent, on wheat to three per cent, on potatoes to 12 per cent, and on pork to 22 per cent, which are all equivalent to Vietnam’s commitment to tariff cuts in the CPTPP, the ministry added.

The United States has suggested tariffs on apples, grapes and wheat should be abolished next year.

Reporting for Reuters by Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.


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