By Mario Ritter
12 September, 2018

The yearly meeting of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN is taking place Vietnam, as a trade dispute between China and America grows. The World Economic Forum is a non-profit organization that seeks to develop cooperation between public and private industry.

The event opened Tuesday. About 1,000 delegates are expected to attend the meeting, including leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar.

Vietnam depends on foreign investment to manufacture goods for export. Exports have supported its economic growth rate which is strong at up to seven percent a year.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, center, Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, left, and Klaus Schwab, executive chair of the World Economic Forum, pose prior to the World Economic Forum on ASEAN Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 . (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, Pool)
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, center, Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, left, and Klaus Schwab, executive chair of the World Economic Forum, pose prior to the World Economic Forum on ASEAN Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 . (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, Pool)

Experts say that Vietnam's 2018 trade position is especially good. Vietnam has shown it can export to China or the United States without facing taxes those sides are placing on some goods.

Frederick Burke is with the legal services company Baker McKenzie in Ho Chi Minh City. He said that international companies are, for the first time, considering Vietnam's strengthened position in the international supply chain.

Delegates to the meeting are talking about issues like aging populations, economic activity on the internet, and high-tech agriculture. But international trade is a major subject of discussion at the event.

Some of the nine leaders attending are expected to give speeches at the meeting. Experts, however, say important unofficial discussions also will take place. Businesspeople hope to learn about government plans to bring in export manufacturers.

Vietnamese officials are expected to tell investors that the cost of production in Vietnam is lower than in China.

Carl Thayer is a former professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He thinks Vietnam may also seek support for a free trade agreement involving many countries.

Vietnam supports the completion of the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership although the U.S. withdrew from the trade deal last year. The agreement reduces import and export taxes among nations that border the Pacific Ocean.

Thayer said the meeting will give Vietnam the chance to find out what other leaders think about issues such as steel exports and business on the internet.

"Part of hosting these summits is designed to have everybody see Vietnam as a solid international good citizen that's contributing to the good, and for its own interest as well," said Thayer.

U.S.-China trade dispute affects Vietnam's position

The U.S. and China have continued to exchange threats of increasing tariffs on trade between them worth billions of dollars.

However, some experts note this means Vietnam could gain from the dispute. Earlier this year, the business advising agency Dezan Shira & Associates said exporters who ship products to the U.S. from Vietnam could save money.

Electronics companies Intel and Samsung Electronics now send some of their products from Vietnam. Other companies are seeking to do the same.

Observers note that Chinese companies also want to set up factories in Vietnam. However, this has raised concerns among some Southeast Asian nations. They are worried that China may get too much access to special economic areas set up to increase trade.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Ralph Jennings reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

supply chain –n. the connected group of companies and others involved in manufacturing a product and getting it to person who uses it

contribute –v. to help cause something to happen

ship –v. to send something to a person who bought it or will use it

access –n. a way of being able to use or get something

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