US blows the whistle on eight Vietnamese state firms to WTO

The United States has notified the World Trade Organization of eight Vietnamese firms it says should have been registered as state trading enterprises under global trading rules, a filing published by the WTO shows. The U.S. said it was notifying the WTO on Vietnam’s behalf, a so-called “counter-notification”, because Vietnam had failed to do so. Washington has previously taken similar steps to flag Chinese companies that it suspects are competing unfairly because of their government connections. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has vowed to toughen up on transparency at the WTO. The U.S. filing named oil firm PetroVietnam and its subsidiary PV Oil, as well as fuel importer Petrolimex (PVX.HN) and jet fuel supplier Vietnam Air Petrol Company (Vinapco/SKYPEC), as firms that should be declared under WTO rules on state trading enterprises. The list also includes the Northern Food Corporation and Southern Food Corporation, known as Vinafood I and Vinafood II, the Saigon Jewelry Company Limited and the Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin). Vietnam joined the WTO 11 years ago, following in China’s footsteps by transforming its economy on the back of cheap labor and export-led growth. It notified the WTO of two state trading enterprises in April 2016, prompting the U.S. to ask about other companies. Last October, Vietnam replied that most of its former state enterprises had been equitized and were operating under market economy conditions, without their previous preferential privileges. “Shortly after Vietnam’s response, the United States independently researched Vietnam’s claims and, based on… [Read full story]

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