U.S. Assistance to Vietnam [Updated December 3, 2004]   [open pdf - 166KB]

"U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic and economic relations were non-existent for more than fifteen years following communist North Vietnam's victory in 1975 over U.S. ally South Vietnam. Normalization of relations, particularly in the economic sphere, between the United States and unified Vietnam began in earnest in the 1990s. In recent years, many Members of Congress have become interested in linking U.S. aid to the human rights situation in Vietnam. One initiative, H.R. 1587, proposes capping existing non-humanitarian U.S. assistance programs to the Vietnamese government at FY2004 levels if the President does not certify that Vietnam is making "substantial progress" in human rights, including religious freedom. In the near term, if enacted, the substantive impact of H.R. 1587 on U.S. aid would likely be negligible because at present, no U.S. non-humanitarian assistance is given directly to the government of Vietnam. Thus, if enacted, the bill's principal impact is likely to be symbolic. Proponents of the measure argue that it would pressure the Vietnamese government to improve the country's human rights situation. Critics argue that the bill could chill the warming of bilateral political and security ties that has been taking place slowly over the past several months. On July 19, 2004, the House passed H.R. 1587. Attempts to include stripped-down versions of the measure in the FY2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 4818) did not succeed. U.S. bilateral assistance programs are likely to come under additional scrutiny in the future. This report quantifies and briefly describes U.S. assistance programs to Vietnam."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32636
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