Obama 2nd Term May Challenge Vietnam

It’s no surprise that Asian stock markets, including Vietnam, rallied on the news of President Obama’s re-election.  Because he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, some here view Obama as America’s first Southeast Asian president.

The American election wasn’t exactly riveting in Vietnam, where Vietnam-Uruguay relations, not the US election, gets top billing on the Vietnam News Service website.  But the election deserves more attention in Vietnam than it’s been getting — because it could have huge implications for the country’s economic future.

That’s because some of Obama’s strongest supporters are labor unions and trade organizations that are threatened by competition from Vietnam — a prime candidate for outsourcing products currently made in America and a rising star among US imports.  American consumers now buy huge quantities of Vietnamese fish, footwear, and clothes.  And companies still making many of their products in the US, such as New Balance, aren’t happy about competing with the Nike’s of the world; the largest share of Nike shoes come from Vietnam.

On the positive side for Vietnam,  Obama’s election probably means a continuation of foreign policy that has helped create political stability in the region.  The Obama administration has prioritized defense in Asia, especially in the South China Sea, and forged a strengthening military alliance with Vietnam.

In other words, from Vietnam’s point of view, the Obama election is good news for long-term political stability but may signal economic challenges in its relationship with its most important trade partner.

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