Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Monday, the trade bill that was to grant PNTR, “permanent normal trade relations”, to Viet Nam fell short of the required two-third majority in the House, Agence France Presse reported. For any communist or ex-communist country, PNTR is subject to certain US provisions. However, typically, whenever a country is granted a place in the WTO, PNTR is also granted.

This bill, which was supported by many Republicans and businessman looking to invest in the recent influx in the Vietnamese economy, was expected to pass. However, legislation to allow Viet Nam this status had been held up in Congress for months.

Additionally, on Monday, the US State Department lifted Viet Nam’s designation as one of the worst violators of religious freedom. The move came in the wake of the release of Thuong Nguyen “Cuc” Foshee, a US National who had been in jail for over a year. A senator from Florida, where Foshee resides, threatened to delay the passage of the bill until Foshee was released.

Monday’s events, as well as President Bush’s upcoming attendance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference, demonstrate the gradual improvement of US-Viet Nam relations.

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