American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam
AmCham Vietnam is a not-for-profit, non-governmental, and non-political organization. Its objectives are:
- Promote the development of trade, commerce, and investment between the United States and Vietnam
- Provide a forum where American businesses in Vietnam can identify and discuss common interests regarding commercial activities in Vietnam
- Work with organizations in Vietnam on matters of mutual interest
- Maintain relations with chambers of commerce in the United States and other chambers of commerce or commercial organizations
AmCham Vietnam was originally founded in 1967 and re-established as an informal association soon after the return of American businesses in Vietnam in 1994. AmCham Vietnam's charter was approved by the Board of Governors in 1998 and was officially licensed by the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City on September 19, 1998 under the provisions of The Degree of the Government Promulgating the Regulations on the Establishment of Foreign Business Association in Vietnam, Decree No. 8/1998/ND-CP, 22 Jan 98. Herb Cochran is the current Executive Director, having held the position since 2000 and the 2008 Board of Governors Chair is Thomas Seibert.
After the presidential announcement on February 3, 1994 lifting the embargo on trade with Vietnam and announcing the establishment of liaison offices in Hanoi and Washington, a group of American business executives met in Ho Chi Minh City on March 10, 1994, to form an organizing committee to establish an American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam. A similar group met in Hanoi.
This new chamber was designed to represent the ever-growing range of American business interests in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations in July 1995, the arrival of Ambassador Douglas "Pete" Peterson in May 1997, the announcement of the Jackson-Vanik Waiver on March 11, 1998, and steady progress in the negotiation of the Vietnam-United States Trade Agreement, the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam was registered with the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee on September 19, 1998, and the Hanoi Chapter was registered with the Hanoi People's Committee in March 2001.
The first and current office of AmCham Vietnam was at the New World Hotel Saigon. An early goal of the Membership Committee was to recruit all of the American companies and individual business people resident in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi as members. By December 2001, total membership had increased to over 750 representatives, including 450 in Ho Chi Minh City and 300 in Hanoi. By December 2005, membership in HCM City was 320 companies and nearly 600 representatives. And by December 2006, to 400 companies and 800 representatives.
In October 1998, AmCham Vietnam hosted the annual October meetings of the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) in Hanoi, where normalization of the economic relations between Vietnam and the United States, and completion of the negotiations on the Vietnam - United States Trade Agreement, were high on the APCAC agenda. In July 1999, representatives of the two governments initialed an "agreement in principle," but signing of the Trade Agreement was delayed for unexplained reasons. The Ho Chi Minh City chapter, in cooperation with the Ho Chi Minh City trade and investment authorities, organized a "U.S.-Vietnam Business Leaders Forum" in November 1999, and highlighted the very real and immediate benefits to Vietnam from signing the Trade Agreement, including an estimated increase in exports to the United States by $800 million within one year after entry into force. This generated renewed enthusiasm for the Trade Agreement, and it was signed on July 13, 2000, in Washington, D.C.
AmCham continued to play an active role in supporting the ratification of the trade agreement by hosting a U.S.-Vietnam Business Forum and reception at the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Building on the occasion of the Presidential Visit to Ho Chi Minh City on November 19, 2000. Six months later, AmCham organized a Press Conference on May 3, 2001 urging that President George W. Bush submit the Trade Agreement to the United States Congress for consideration and approval without any further delay. It was submitted in early June 2001, approved by both governments over the next six months, and entered into effect on December 10, 2001. Several days later, the U.S. Customs issued a Memorandum to all Field Offices to implement the BTA on the U.S. side by lowering duties on products imported from Vietnam to the "Normal Trade Relations" level.
From this modest but auspicious beginning, the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam has emerged as a respected business organization in Vietnam and in the Asia-Pacific region, and remains actively engaged in public policy issues of importance to our members and our two countries.
AmCham Vietnam welcomed President George W. Bush to Ho Chi Minh City in November 2006, and hosted the Asia Pacific Council of AmChams' 40th Annual Meeting on March 23, 2007.