US fully lifts arms embargo on Vietnam

 US fully lifts arms embargo on Vietnam

 

The US government regards its moves to strengthen engagement with Vietnam as part of its "rebalancing" strategy, which is aimed at enhancing US ties within countries in Asia Pacific. 

HANOI, Vietnam — President Obama said at a news conference on Monday in the Vietnamese capital that the United States had agreed to lift completely its embargo on lethal weapons sales. “The United States is fully lifting the ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam that has been in place for some 50 years,” Mr. Obama said.
Vietnam had long asked for the embargo to be revoked. The decision, which comes more than 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, involved weighing Vietnam’s human rights record against the country’s need to defend itself against an increasing threat from China, its neighbor.

Lifting the arms embargo is the most important initiative that the two countries have announced during Mr. Obama’s visit. Human rights advocates had called for the embargo to remain in place in an effort to pressure Vietnam. But as the United States and Vietnam move closer together in part to help counter Chinese efforts in the South China Sea, many in Washington had urged for the embargo to be lifted entirely.

However, Mr. Obama said that countering China’s presence was not the main factor in removing the restriction; “The decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations,” he said. “It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving toward normalization of relations with Vietnam.”

The United States restored diplomatic ties with Vietnam in 1995 and decided to lift a ban on some nonlethal equipment in 2007. The arms embargo was further eased in 2014, when the United States permitted some maritime equipment.

With the ban lifted in full, Vietnam is finally shedding Moscow's influence and will be able to purchase land systems and a wider spectrum of military aerospace platforms and systems from the US that will support Vietnam’s efforts to modernise its military and to secure its territory.

However, it is most likely that any Vietnamese purchases from the US would be supported by US aid (as in the case of the Defiant 75 purchase), such as Foreign Military Financing or under the US Excess Defense Articles programme. This will restrict the size of the purchase (in terms of value) and will mean that any purchase of aircraft, for instance, is likely to feature a small number of ex-US military platforms. The requirement to support US purchases through aid will be needed because Vietnam’s defence procurement expenditure is relatively small despite increases in the overall defence budget. In 2016, IHS Jane’s estimates Vietnam’s total defence procurement budget at about USD1.6 billion. Yet, with serious defence procurement funding now available, a rush of diverse suppliers to court Hanoi is expected for the rest of the decade and beyond. Competition to upgrade the country's dated communication and surveillance networks will be particularly fierce. 
Key Points:

• President Barack Obama announced a move to fully lift its long-standing military export embargo on Vietnam today during his visit to the country.  
• With the ban lifted in full, Vietnam is finally shedding Moscow's influence and will be able to purchase land systems and a wider spectrum of military aerospace platforms and systems from the US that will support Vietnam’s efforts to modernise its military and to secure its territory.
• The US sanctions have been in place for several decades but have been eased twice in the past 10 years. In 2007, the US allowed Vietnam to purchase US-made “non-lethal” defence equipment, and in 2014, it eased the restrictions again to permit Vietnam’s purchase of maritime-security equipment.
• After the update in 2014, Vietnam purchased  six Metal Shark-produced Defiant 75 fast patrol vessels from the US at a cost of USD18 million. The boats are being delivered unarmed, although IHS Jane's understands that Vietnam can later upgrade them. 

http://nyti.ms/27QdLEg


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