Vietnam maintains diplomatic relations with approximately 160 nations and trade links with about 180 countries and territories, including all the world powers. Vietnam has signed a bilateral trade agreement with 80 countries, an agreement on the “Most Favored Nation” status with more than 70, an agreement on double taxation with nearly 40, and agreements on investment guarantee with many countries. Vietnam - US relations have been fully normalized, and are developing in all aspects. The US has become the biggest importer of Vietnamese products.
Vietnam has been a member of the United Nations since 1977. The country is now a member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC), and Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM). Vietnam is also negotiating for accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is expected to be a member by the end of 2006. Ties with multilateral credit organizations such as the World Bank, IMF and ADB have resumed and are developing steadily.
Vietnam is now in transition from a centrally-run to a market economy. The country’s Constitution recognizes a socialist oriented multi-sector economy operating under both the market mechanism and management by the State. Foreign and domestic private sectors are among the economic sectors constitutionally recognized in Vietnam. There are currently state-owned enterprises, state-private joint-stock companies, foreign invested enterprises, domestic private firms, cooperatives and household businesses operating in the country. A level playing field is being created to encourage all economic sectors to expand and develop.