19 Jun Vietnam and China, leading footwear producers, start talks
Talks between the presidents of Vietnam and China, their first meeting since China’s leadership change, will focus on bolstering economic ties even as tensions rise over disputed territory in the South China Sea.
Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang arrived this afternoon and is set to meet President Xi Jinping during a three-day visit, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The two countries are among only five remaining Communist nations worldwide, the others being North Korea, Laos and Cuba.
Sang, facing pressure at home to stand up to China as he makes his first trip there as president, will address disputes over islands and energy resources in the South China Sea while seeking Chinese investment to boost Vietnam’s economy, which his government targets to grow 5.5 percent this year. That would be Vietnam’s first period of three straight years of growth below six percent since 1988, according to International Monetary Fund data.
Vietnam’s trade deficit with China is widening. China recorded a trade surplus with Vietnam of more than $11 billion from January through May, with exports to Vietnam rising almost 46 percent and imports increasing almost 10 percent, Chinese trade figures show.
Still, as wages in China rise, some global manufacturers, including Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike Inc. (NKE), are ramping up production in Vietnam. In 2010, Vietnam surpassed China as the largest supplier of Nike-brand footwear, according to the company’s annual reports.