July 4, 2019 / 11:41 AM / 2 months ago

Vietnam determined to tackle U.S. concerns about steel exports: finance minister

LONDON (Reuters) - Vietnam is determined to tackle U.S. concerns about steel exports at the center of a new tariff row, its finance minister said on Thursday.

Vietnam finance minister Dinh Tien Dung speaks during an interview in London, Britain, July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Marc Jones

The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday said it would slap tariffs of up to 456% on certain steel produced in South Korea or Taiwan which is then shipped to Vietnam for minor processing before being exported to the United States.

“We will be determined in managing the situation, handling the violations and handling the breaches,” Dinh Tien Dung told Reuters in an interview through an interpreter.

“We want to demonstrate to President Donald Trump that we are taking a serious attitude to this.”

He added that, while there would be some economic impact from tariffs, the impact in the immediate future will not be that high because steel exports are not the biggest share of exports to the U.S.

He declined to say whether Vietnam would consider retaliatory tariffs, adding “we first need to review (the situation).”

The Southeast Asian country has been deemed one of the biggest beneficiaries of a trade war between Washington and Beijing as some businesses are shifting their supply chains away from China to avoid U.S. tariffs.

After signing a free trade deal with the European Union last week, Dung said, Vietnam is now targeting a similar agreement with Britain after Brexit.

“We want to negotiate soon... the sooner the better,” he said.

Economic growth would be between 6.5-6.7% this year, with a similar level expected next year, Dung said.

Spurred by robust exports and foreign investment, Vietnam’s gross domestic product grew 6.71% in the second quarter of this year, slowing down from a revised expansion of 6.82% in the first quarter, official data showed last week.

Dung said the government had no plans for further dollar-denominated bond issuance.

Vietnam has been a relatively infrequent visitor to international bond markets, with its last sale in 2014.

Writing by Marc Jones and Tom Arnold; editing by Karin Strohecker

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