Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  

Bush okays US-Vietnam trade measure

US President George W. Bush on Friday signed a proclamation formally extending full US-Vietnam trade ties and made the former foe eligible for US military aid, key steps in normalizing relations.

Bush lifted trade restrictions imposed on Vietnam under the so-called "Jackson-Vanik" amendment of 1974, under which communist nations can enjoy normal trade relations with the United States only if the president grants an annual waiver certifying that such relations promote freedom of emigration.

"The United States welcomes Vietnam's progress in enacting free-market reforms, and looks forward to Vietnam becoming the 150th member of the World Trade Organization on January 11," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

In a memorandum to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bush declared that "the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to Vietnam will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace."

Bush had visited Hanoi and Saigon in mid-November as part of a week-long Asia trip that also took him to Singapore and Indonesia.

The US Congress formally granted Vietnam "permanent normal trade relations" earlier this month, giving that country the same access to US markets that other WTO members enjoy.