Leaders of 90 leading US brands have recently called on US President Joe Biden to speed up COVID-19 vaccine aid to Vietnam, saying that the Southeast Asian country is an important US supply chain.
In a joint letter to President Biden on August 13, 90 chief executives (CEOs) of US companies and corporations having production activities in Vietnam, including Nike, Adidas, Levi Strauss and Gap, said Vietnam “is experiencing a severe COVID-19 outbreak, particularly in the south, and the United States is the best place to provide the support needed to contain this.”
The most severe outbreak in the community since the end of April caused Vietnam to record nearly 10,000 cases of infection in one day on August 14. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and most of the southern region are under lockdown to control the spread of the pandemic which kills hundreds of people every day. Many businesses in the south, including factories that supply global companies in the US, have had to shut down or operate below capacity due to the impact of the outbreak, disrupting global supply chains.
“Vietnam has emerged as an important economic and supply chain partner of the United States,” the CEOs said in the letter published by the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS). “(Vietnam) is currently the second largest supplier of apparel, footwear and travel products to the US market. Furthermore, Vietnam has also become an important supplier of essential inputs to the small but important U.S. footwear industry.”
These CEOs urged President Biden to “accelerate vaccine aid” to help Vietnam “recover quickly” when they said that the crisis in Vietnam is also the crisis of the garment industry in the US.
The Biden government last month twice donated a vaccine against COVID-19 to Vietnam through the global vaccine sharing mechanism COVAX, with a total of 5 million doses of Moderna. The US government has also supported more than $20 million USD and 77 deep freezers to store vaccines to help Vietnam fight the epidemic. However, Vietnam remains the country with the lowest vaccination rate in the region, with more than 1% of its 98 million population receiving at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.
Earlier in June and July, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) also sent two letters to President Biden urging the head of the White House to “increase the distribution of America’s surplus vaccine” for Vietnam and other important partner countries.
In his second letter to President Biden on July 27, the president and CEO of the trade association representing more than 1,000 world-renowned American brands, Steve Lamar, said the industry’s success apparel and footwear as well as those of 3 million American workers who are “directly dependent” on their suppliers from Vietnam and other countries around the world.
Vietnam supplies 20% of all US imports of apparel, footwear and travel goods, and that number is growing every year, even during the pandemic, according to the AAFA CEO.
In a letter to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the same day of July 27, Mr. Lamar called on the head of the Vietnamese government to “prioritize the distribution of vaccines” to workers in this industry – currently playing the role of important for both countries. The head of AAFA also urged the Vietnamese government leader to work closely with local industry and trade association partners to find solutions to help the industry continue to operate safely during the pandemic.
The White House and Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to VOA’s request for comment on the letters. Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, Ha Kim Ngoc, said last month that the US continues to provide vaccine aid to Vietnam after 5 million doses of Moderna.
US Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Vietnam later this month, and according to VITAS Secretary General Hoang Ngoc Anh, the association hopes that during the high-level meeting between Ms. Harris and Vietnamese government leaders, the coordinated initiative to preserve the health of the Vietnamese and US supply chains “will be discussed in detail for quick and effective action in September.”