US–Vietnam relations under President Trump

Author/s (editor/s):

Huong Le Thu

Publication year:


Publication type:

Discussion paper

Under the Obama administration, the US–Vietnam relationship experienced a significant improvement, in particular in terms of security cooperation. China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea has helped the warming of bilateral ties. The Trans-Pacific Partnership also offered a prospect of escaping China’s economic orbit. But just as the hard-earned security rapprochement was starting to gain momentum, newly elected US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Soon after the rebalance to Asia was declared officially dead. Neither was good news for Vietnam. However, despite initial anxiety over Trump’s reluctance to engage with Southeast Asia, there have been some signals that the relationship may continue to prosper. High-level meetings, including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s and Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich’s visits to Washington in 2017, reassured Hanoi that the Trump administration has a continued interest in deepening bilateral relations. President Trump’s attendance at the APEC summit in November 2017 in Da Nang and a scheduled side trip to Hanoi signal if not some new developments in US–Vietnam relations then at least some clarity over President Trump’s Vietnam and Asia policy.

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