"U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic and economic relations remained essentially frozen for more than a decade after the 1975 communist victory in South Vietnam. Over the past decade, Washington and Hanoi have normalized relations incrementally. Congress has played a significant role in the normalization process. Bilateral relations took a major step forward in February 1994, when President Clinton ordered an end to the 19-year old U.S. trade embargo on Vietnam. The following year, the United States and Vietnam settled diplomatic and private property claims and opened liaison offices in Washington and Hanoi. In April 1997, a U.S. Ambassador was approved by the Senate and took up his post in Hanoi. In March 1998, President Clinton granted a waiver from the Jackson-Vanik amendment that smoothed the way for Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Export-Import Bank support for U.S. business in Vietnam. […] Until recently, each step in improving bilateral ties has brought controversy, albeit at diminishing levels. U.S. opponents in Congress and elsewhere have argued that Vietnam maintains a poor record on human, religious, and labor rights. Opposition has also come from groups arguing that Vietnam has not done enough to account for U.S. Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIAs) from the Vietnam War, though this argument has diminished markedly in recent years. Forces favoring normalization have included those in Congress and elsewhere reflecting a strong U.S. business interest in Vietnam's reforming economy and American strategic interests in working with U.S. friends and allies to promote stability and development by integrating Vietnam more fully into the existing East Asian order."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB98033
U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Center: http://www.fpc.state.gov/