Vietnam might be Donald Trump’s next trade war target

Next on the list?
Next on the list?
Image: AP/Hau Dinh
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In an a wide-ranging—and what some deemed unhinged and rambling—interview with Fox Business Network yesterday (June 26), US president Donald Trump talked about everything from Google, the Fed, migrants, Europe, and former vice president Joe Biden. He also turned his fire on Vietnam.

While he has dialled up the heat on China with a threat of tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, Vietnam, Trump said, is “the single worst abuser of everybody.”

“A lot of companies are moving to Vietnam, but Vietnam takes advantage of us even worse than China. So there’s a very interesting situation going on there,” he said, hinting that the southeast Asian country might be next in line to be hit with tariffs.

Vietnam has so far been one of the major winners in the ongoing US-China trade war. It has enjoyed a big bump in exports to the US as it stepped in to fill the void left by a decline in corresponding Chinese exports. Manufacturers have also moved their production to Vietnam from China, in part to avoid the punitive US sanctions.

Meanwhile,  exports to Vietnam from China of computers and electronics have surged this year (paywall), suggesting that Chinese companies may be circumventing tariffs by rerouting goods to Vietnam before being re-exported to the US. Vietnamese authorities have sought to crack down on the practice, known as transshipment, as well as the fraudulent relabeling of Chinese goods as “Made in Vietnam,” in an effort to keep in America’s good graces while salvaging its reputation.

While the US may give Vietnam the cold shoulder, the EU is set to extend the country a warm welcome when the two ink a free-trade deal on Sunday (June 30). The pact will eliminate virtually all customs duties on trade between the EU and Vietnam.