On June 8th and 9th, 2016, the Mansfield Foundation convened the Rule of Law: Vietnam and the TPP workshop in partnership with the University of Economics and Business-Vietnam National University and Hong Kong University (HKU).
Based at the University of Economics and Business (UEB), part of Vietnam National University in Hanoi, the program comprised two days of private, interactive workshop sessions addressing legal reform in Vietnam in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Vietnam’s expanding foreign trade.
The Foundation convened the program in response to the significance of Vietnam’s entrance into the TPP and the sweeping reforms that will need to accompany Vietnam’s accession to TPP in order to achieve successful implementation. The program also reflected the outsized importance to the U.S. Congress of Vietnam’s accession to TPP, and therefore the role that Vietnam may play in Congress’s ultimate decision to proceed with or to obstruct TPP.
In light of these factors, the broad aim of the program was to facilitate communication and effective working relationships in the context of TPP implementation. The program focused on relationships between members of Vietnam’s trade and legal policy community and expert voices from Washington, D.C., from both outside and within the U.S. government. The program also brought in scholars and practitioners from the Hong Kong and Japanese trade communities in order to provide third party perspectives on Vietnam and the TPP.
Specific objectives included:
- Sharing knowledge, insight, and perspectives that facilitate Vietnam’s smooth implementation of the TPP and sustained growth in foreign trade.
- Deepening understanding of current circumstances in Vietnam in order to enhance the capacity of the U.S. and key foreign partners to engage constructively and effectively in their affairs with Vietnam.
- Cultivating relationships and channels for effective communication between those central to Vietnam’s governance of trade and trade law and key individuals in the foreign trade and policy communities in the U.S., Hong Kong, Japan, and elsewhere.
The program, which was hosted by UEB Rector Nguyen Hong Son, and chaired by Mansfield Foundation President and CEO Frank Jannuzi, brought fifteen senior foreign policy and trade experts from the U.S. and Hong Kong together with twenty-five Vietnamese lawyers and representatives from four ministries and the National Assembly. Workshop sessions addressed trade politics, interpretation of international law, domestic reform and institutional capacity building, labor obligations, and the role of the international community in facilitating Vietnam’s successful implementation of its TPP obligations.
Barry Hager (President, Hager Associates) and Justice Anselmo Trinidad Reyes (Professor of Legal Practice, HKU) served as senior advisors to the program. Participants were also joined by the U.S. Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Susan Sutton, Cu Chi Loi (Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences), and Vo Tri Thanh (Central Institute for Economic Management), each of whom presented remarks during public seminar sessions. The program was made possible through the generosity of the Hinrich Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the VF Corporation.