LPLE #15: What President Obama's Visit to Vietnam Could Mean for the US and Vietnamese Economies

Welcome to LPLE, "Let's Practice Listening in English!"

Jesse and Andrew talk about and analyze what President Obama's visit to Vietnam could mean for the United States and Vietnam's economic growth, including US allowing Vietnam to purchase weapons from the US, and Vietjet Air's purchase of 100 Boeing airplanes.

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Intro [Jesse]: Hi everyone. My name is Jesse Robbins, and welcome to LPLE from Dialogue FM. We're the podcast that lets you practice listening in English. We speak English slowly and clearly so that you can follow along and understand native English speakers more easily. I'm excited to help you improve your English listening skills, as well as help you learn new vocabulary, grammar, and idioms commonly heard and conversation among native English speakers. If you want to practice listening in English, then we invite you to join our conversation.

Jesse: Hey, Andrew.

Andrew: Hey, Jesse.

Jesse: This has been an interesting week for our president, right? He is currently in Asia, East and Southeast Asia. Most recently, he's visited Vietnam.

Now, this makes me very excited for many, many reasons. Number one, I studied Vietnamese for three years and can speak it pretty well. Two, I actually lived in Vietnam for a total of one year: three months in Hanoi and about nine to ten months in Ho Chi Minh City. And, furthermore, this makes me excited because the nature of his trip went a bit beyond standard meet-and-greet diplomacy.

Andrew: Definitely.

Jesse: If I'm not mistaken there were some economic opportunities that he was trying to stimulate by going to Vietnam. Now, Vietnam recently had an election, so they have undergone some new political changes themselves. So, a new government is coming in, while in America our president is leaving. But, nevertheless, this created a really unique opportunity for the two countries to really think about the economic partnership that they can create.

Andrew: Definitely. They took this opportunity in a big way. The United States ended its embargo of selling arms to Vietnam, while the president was there. And, what that means is... Well, first, as background, for a long time since the end of the conflict in Vietnam where America was fighting a war there, the United States has made it forbidden for any American companies to sell weapons like guns or military aircraft to Vietnam; and, that embargo was lifted, meaning that companies like Boeing and Airbus and others can now sell their products in Vietnam for the first time.

Jesse: That is a huge deal. That's probably the first of many large economic opportunities that came from this trip. We could spend this entire episode just focused on that economic opportunity alone, about America lifting its arms embargo off of Vietnam, that America can now sell weapons to the Vietnamese government. It's worth remembering that America sells billions of dollars worth of arms to other countries. We are good at this; we as a country are good at manufacturing weapons and selling them to other countries. So, it sounds like Vietnam is going to be our newest customer. Now, the second thing that immediately came from this opportunity, from this visit was that VietJet Air placed an order for 100 Boeing airplanes. Now, of course VietJet Air and Boeing we're probably working on this contract well before the president came to Vietnam.

Andrew: Definitely.

Jesse: But, it sounds like they knew the president was coming, and so they decided to hold off on signing the contract until he got there so that the president could include that in his remarks about the economic opportunity between the two countries.

Andrew: It is a good symbol of the kind of commerce and economic cooperation between the countries that can happen in the years to come.

Jesse: Before now VietJet Air only purchased airplanes from Airbus. Airbus is a European company. Now, with this purchase of 100 airplanes from Boeing, that introduces economic opportunity for us. Here in the Northwest, in our city, Boeing is here. Boeing has offices here, but they also have manufacturing plants here. So their purchase a 100 planes is going to mean good things for our local economy.

Andrew: That's right. The factories that build the 737 they are going to sell are right here in town, which means that your company in Seattle is going to be selling airplanes to the cities you love in Vietnam.

Jesse: So as I think about Vietnam economic future, I foresee a lot more companies paying more attention to Vietnam, especially now after President Obama went to Vietnam. And that's great, because it sounds like Vietnam is a growing market.

When I lived there, it was extremely obvious that the education system is progressing very fast and there are a lot of educated, English-speaking, local Vietnamese there. I see in the future a lot of jobs being created in Vietnam, which also means that local companies here might be outsourcing some other work to Vietnam where the skill of labor might be equal but the wages are a lot lower in Vietnam.

Andrew: Right. It means a lot of opportunities for good paying jobs for Vietnamese working for American companies in the future as part of this economic cooperation.

Jesse: This kind of diplomatic exchange is very common. We know this. One of the big things that was happening that I think we in America did not hear much about was similar diplomatic relationships being created between a few countries in Africa and China.

Andrew: Yes. China is investing very heavily in Africa in the same way that America is investing in parts of Asia to build those connections and create those opportunities both for Chinese products being sold and used in Africa, but also for resources and jobs being developed in Africa for China.

Jesse: There are mutually beneficial reasons why countries engage in these kinds of diplomatic relationships. Sometimes country A has resources that country B wants, and sometimes country B creates many products that country A wants. And, so what they're doing is they're negotiating to make it easier for those two countries to get those goods and services and natural resources to each other in a way that is equitable, mutually beneficial, and looks good politically. Because, at the end of the day, politicians want to do things that are going to keep them in power, that are going to keep them in their offices, so of course it makes sense that they're going to do things that are going to help their people, so long as they remind their people that, "hey it was our party that helped increase your economic opportunity."

Andrew: I can't wait to see how much Vietnam has changed as a result of this new economic opportunity the next time we go back.

Jesse: That's right. We should plan another trip!

Andrew: And soon!

Outro [Jesse]: Thank you for listening to this episode of LPLE, Let's Practice Listening in English, from Dialog.FM. Subscribe to LPLE on iTunes to hear the latest episodes, or listen to past episodes on our website, Dialog.FM. That's d-i-a-l-o-g-dot-f-m. If you have questions or comments about English, or if you would like for us to use a word, grammar, or idiom in our conversation so you can learn how to use it correctly, we would love to hear from you on Twitter at @dialogdotfm or Facebook at