(Adds quotes from Phuc speech, more details on deals)
By Roberta Rampton and David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON May 31 U.S. President Donald Trump
talked trade with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc
during a White House visit on Wednesday and welcomed the signing
of business deals worth billions of dollars and the jobs they
General Electric Co said earlier it had signed deals
with Vietnam worth about $5.58 billion for power generation,
aircraft engines and services, its largest ever single combined
sale with the country.
Caterpillar Inc and its dealer in Vietnam also
agreed to provide generator management technology for more than
100 generators in Vietnam, the company said.
"They (Vietnam) just made a very large order in the United
States - and we appreciate that - for many billions of dollars,
which means jobs for the United States and great, great
equipment for Vietnam," Trump told reporters at the White House.
Phuc told the Heritage Foundation after his meeting with
Trump he had signed deals for U.S. goods and services worth $15
billion during his three-day U.S. visit, most involving the
import of U.S. equipment.
He said on Tuesday the deals were mainly for high-technology
products and for services, but gave no details and the value of
deals announced thus far by U.S. firms was lower than the figure
given by Phuc.
Communist Vietnam has gone from being a Cold War enemy to an
important partner for the United States in the Asia-Pacific,
where both countries share concerns about China's rising power.
Phuc told Trump the relationship had undergone "significant
upheavals in history," but that the two countries were now
Phuc's meeting with Trump makes him the first Southeast
Asian leader to visit the White House under the new
However, while Hanoi and Washington have stepped up security
cooperation in recent years, trade has become a potential
irritant, with a deficit widening steadily in Vietnam's favor,
reaching $32 billion last year, compared with $7 billion a
Trump, who has had strong words for countries with large
trade surpluses with the United States, said he would be
discussing trade with Phuc, as well as North Korea.
Washington has been seeking support to pressure North Korea
to drop its nuclear and missile programs, which have become an
increasing threat to the United States. Hanoi has said it shares
concerns about North Korea.
In his Heritage speech, Phuc welcomed Trump's plans to
attend the November APEC summit in Hanoi. He called it a sign of
U.S. commitment to the region and "an important occasion for the
United States to assert its positive role."
In a reference to somewhat warmer ties between Washington
and Beijing under Trump - who has been courting China's support
on North Korea - Phuc said Vietnam welcomed good relations
between the two powers, but hoped these would serve the interest
of other nations in the region too.
He urged Washington and Beijing "to act with full
transparency and in a responsible manner so as not to impact
negatively the region and relations among other nations."
"NICE, BUT NOT ENOUGH"
Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia expert at Washington's
Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that while
the Trump administration welcomed new business deals with
Vietnam, its view was they were "nice, but not enough."
"They want Vietnam to bring some ideas about how to tackle
the surplus on an ongoing basis,” he said.
On Tuesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer
expressed concern about the rapid growth of the deficit with
Vietnam. He said it was a new challenge for the two countries
and he was looking to Phuc to help address it.
The deficit is Washington's sixth largest and reflects
growing imports of Vietnamese semiconductors and other
electronics products in addition to more traditional sectors
such as footwear, apparel and furniture.
Phuc said the two economies were "more complementary than
competitive" and said U.S. exports to Vietnam had seen a rapid
On Tuesday his trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, presented
Lighthizer with suggestions to address some U.S. concerns, such
as advertising on U.S. social media, electronic payment services
and imports of information security and farm products, Vietnam's
trade ministry said.
Vietnam also urged the United States to remove an inspection
program for catfish, speed import licenses for its fruit and
make fair decisions on anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on
Vietnamese products, the ministry said.
Vietnam was disappointed when Trump ditched the 12-nation
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, of which Hanoi was
expected to be one of the main beneficiaries, and focused U.S.
trade policy on reducing deficits.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, David Brunnstrom, David Lawder
and Mike Stone; Editing by Toni Reinhold, Jonathan Oatis and