EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HANOI
Dear AmCham Members,
As the new U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, it is an honor to write an introduction for the 2018 American Chamber of Commerce Directory.
When I walked into the U.S. Embassy for the first time, I could not help but notice the portraits of my 15 predecessors neatly aligned on the lobby wall. Viewed from a distance, the grid-like display gives the impression of unbroken continuity stretching back to 1952 when Ambassador Donald Heath first arrived as President Truman’s personal envoy. Closer inspection of each portrait, however, reveals the 20-year gap that defined our relationship with Vietnam for a generation.
When Ambassador Pete Peterson arrived to help bridge that gap in 1997, the Washington Post noted that “with few profits to show for about $800 million they have committed here since a U.S. trade embargo was lifted in 1994, American business[es] see the arrival of the ambassador as adding a level of confidence that might attract more investment.”
The mere presence of an ambassador did not open the flood gates to American investment, but it did help advance our commercial interests. The strong partnership between the U.S. Mission and AmCham Vietnam has always been vital to that endeavor. Its success is well chronicled. But it is not complete.
One of my key goals as Ambassador is to grow our partnership in pursuit of expanded trade and investment between the United States and Vietnam. President Trump chose Vietnam as the place to present his vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific this past November for a reason. It sent a clear message that the United States remains committed to the region and to strengthening our Comprehensive Partnership with Vietnam. I look forward to demonstrating that commitment in close cooperation with our Embassy, Consulate General, and the two AmCham Chapters. Through coordinated advocacy, I believe we can reduce unfair barriers to trade and investment, empower the private sector, and expand opportunities for the U.S. business community in Vietnam.
I hope that 20 years from now, when the lobby of our U.S. Embassy has no more room for portraits, a future U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam can point to our tenure as a prominent example of diplomatic and commercial partnership that successfully advanced U.S. interests and opened new markets for American goods and services.
Here is to a prosperous and peaceful 2018.
Daniel J. Kritenbrink