Vietnam set to become WTO’s 150th member

HANOI, Nov 6, 2006 (AFP) – Vietnam is set to become the 150th member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tuesday after 20 years of market reforms that have made the communist ruled country one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. Hanoi hopes admission to the Geneva based club will further boost trade and investment for the Southeast Asian country of 84 million people whose emerging economy grew at over 8 percent last year, second in the region only to China.

“WTO membership will confer an international stamp of approval on Vietnam in the eyes of foreign investors and businessmen,” said Vietnam expert Dr Carl Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy.

“The trade environment will now be subject to international rules and regulations that are widely understood outside Vietnam,” he said. “Vietnam will be seen as a safer destination for capital.”

Vietnam will later this month greet US President George W Bush and the leaders of China, Japan, Russia and the other members of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum at a summit in Hanoi.

“WTO accession and hosting the APEC summit are both very important for Vietnam,” said the UN Development Programme’s chief economist in the country, Jonathan Pincus