Remarks by U.S. Ambassador David Thorne at the American Innovation Roadshow – Forbes Conference

Theo nguồn tin trên trang mạng của Tổng lãnh sự quán Hoa Kỳ ở tại Sài Gòn

Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 8:30 a.m.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Good Morning.

Thank you Deputy Minister Chu Ngoc Anh for the warm welcome, and thank you to Forbes Vietnam and our corporate sponsors Aetna and Boa Viet for organizing this important event.

I also want to thank Consul General Bitter, who along with Ambassador Osius, has tirelessly worked to advance the bilateral relationship between our two countries and has been behind the push to bring our delegation here today.

Entrepreneurs are the force which moves societies forward, making all of our lives better in the process. Innovators are constantly thinking of new and creative ways to improve our lives in ways we never imagined.

In the United States, we have created the policy conditions that allow ideas to take flight and start-up companies to thrive. Our education system prizes innovation and creativity, our legal system nurtures and protects new ideas, allowing them to grow into the businesses that shape our world. Places in the U.S. like Silicon Valley, Research Triangle, Boston, and countless others are excellent models on which to base developing entrepreneurial ecosystems.

We think this income-generating and job-creating environment can be recreated right here in Vietnam. This is why Secretary of State John Kerry has asked his senior economic officials to lead a series of American Innovation Roadshows across Asia.

The American Innovation Roadshow is one of the first activities to happen under U.S.-ASEAN Connect — a new U.S. government initiative, announced by President Obama at the February U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Sunnylands, CA.

One of the pillars of U.S.-ASEAN Connect is aimed at supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southeast Asia.

U.S.-ASEAN Connect will strengthen the economic ties that are at the core of the United States and ASEAN’s decades-long partnership. ASEAN countries collectively comprise the fourth-largest trading partner for the United States.

Two-way trade in goods and services has tripled since the 1990s, topping $254 billion in 2014. U.S. businesses have been the largest cumulative source of foreign direct investment in ASEAN, and ASEAN countries are increasing their investment in the United States.

Our economic interaction has created jobs in both the United States and in ASEAN nations, growing the global middle class.

Our engagement under U.S.-ASEAN Connect will build on our existing efforts to support ASEAN’s economic integration, because a more integrated ASEAN will strengthen a rules-based and open economic order in the region.

This Roadshow is also an important foundation program for encouraging entrepreneurship leading up to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in Silicon Valley this summer.

This seventh iteration of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit will showcase inspiring entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors from around the world who are creating new opportunities for investment, partnership, and collaboration.

We have said it at every level of the U.S. Government — the United States is committed to deepening its economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific and working with our partners to more fully unlock the potential of this dynamic region and enhance prosperity for its citizens and ours. This Roadshow and President Obama’s visit in May is tangible proof of that commitment.

When Secretary Kerry asked me to become his Senior Advisor, he charged me with coordinating the Shared Prosperity Agenda for the State Department.

The Shared Prosperity Agenda advances Secretary Kerry’s vision to better incorporate economic diplomacy at the forefront of U.S. global engagement, as an essential way to help us address our foreign policy challenges.

Shared Prosperity rests on the belief that you cannot have lasting peace and security without prosperity and the hope of a better life that comes with it. And the United States wants to do all it can to help build prosperous economic partners.

For this reason, one of the most important goals of U.S. foreign policy is to advance inclusive economic growth around the world, through new business formation and individual economic empowerment.

In my own life, I was an entrepreneur for 30 years before I became a diplomat. I have a deep appreciation of the job-creating power of new businesses as well as a keen understanding of how government policy frameworks can facilitate growth.

Look at the U.S. as an example. Businesses less than five years old have been responsible for nearly ALL net new job growth in the U.S. private sector over the past 25 years.

Today, the U.S. innovation brand resonates throughout the region and indeed the world and is embodied in the U.S. companies that join us today.

Entrepreneurship not only empowers individuals, it is the driving engine of job growth and prosperity. We have to find ways for people to take their own ideas and start businesses. It is about unlocking entrepreneurial drive, which can be constrained by inhospitable policy environments and an underdeveloped technology infrastructure.

The relentless pace of globalization and dramatic improvements in connectivity presents potentially enormous opportunities to entrepreneurs who can maximize the potential of that resource.

For example, in the U.S. internet economy accounts for more than 6% of America’s GDP, and rising! Estimates put Vietnam’s digital economy at about 1.9% of GDP, so there is tremendous room for growth in Vietnam.

Allowing the free flow of data, and encouraging common digital standards to build a common ASEAN digital community is critical to the success of entrepreneurs in this region.

But it is also essential to develop supportive policy environments which will enable new business development.

So, we would like to encourage better and faster broadband access.

We would like to encourage simplifying the process of new business formation and streamlining business dispute resolution.

We would like to encourage improved intellectual property protection and encourage better transfer of key technologies from the university to the private sector.

Furthermore, we would like to encourage the development of new financial technology or “FinTech” innovations – blockchain and distributed ledgers, mobile banking, etc. – which will provide a backbone to the e-commerce activity we spoke of already.

These kinds of tools naturally encourage fiscal and business transparency, not just for start-ups but for everyone, which is key to reducing corruption and improving efficiency.

Finally, we encourage the increased flexibility of labor laws and expansion of educational opportunities, so that young people can learn the marketable skills they need, and enjoy freedom of movement between sectors and companies.

Digital technology has changed the face of business around the world and we have to make sure the next generation is prepared to harness the power of technology to create businesses.

This means ensuring that they have the education they need to compete on a global scale.

Secretary Kerry and I have been proud to support the creation of Fulbright University Vietnam, and we thank the Vietnamese government for their close cooperation as we soon finalize this effort.

Once approved, this University will be the first private, not for profit, academically independent university in Vietnam.

For more than 20 years, a joint initiative between Harvard University, led by my friend Tom Vallely and the Department of State, has provided Vietnamese professionals with academically rigorous training in market economics through the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program.

The Fulbright University Vietnam is a natural evolution of that successful program and it will do even more than its predecessor to help foster the linkages needed for innovation to thrive.

We believe Fulbright University Vietnam will be instrumental in helping Vietnam’s next generation acquire the knowledge and skills to compete in a Vietnam that is integrated into the global, 21st century knowledge economy.

We also believe Fulbright University will mark an exciting new chapter in the ever closer bilateral ties between the United States and Vietnam.

The next wave of innovation is coming fast. Worldwide, clean energy job growth is happening at double the rate of the economy writ large right now, and the solar industry is growing at 10 times that rate.

Over the next 15 years, $17 trillion is expected to be invested in energy worldwide, and the vast majority of that is going to be in clean energy. This is one of the greatest economic opportunities the world has ever seen.

We want to see Vietnam’s economy reap the same benefits from relentless innovation and entrepreneurship that have lifted our own economic growth. The Vietnam Silicon Valley program and the establishment of technology incubators in universities is a step in the right direction.

We are delighted that Vietnam is joining TPP which will stimulate economic growth.

According to a 2016 World Bank Report, by 2030 Vietnam’s GDP should grow 10% due to TPP and Vietnam’s exports should grow 30 %.

It is also very exciting that Vietnam has the fastest-growing consumer class in the region. Between 2010 and 2030 the consumer class is projected to grow 5 times to 66 million, meaning 2/3 of Vietnam’s 92 million people will be middle class by 2030.

I also want to congratulate Vietnam for rising 19 places on the Global Innovation Index last year, outperforming 2/3’s of all the other economies in the index.

Vietnam’s economic prowess, which began with instituting market oriented policies 30 years ago with Doi Moi, will only grow with continued reform of state-owned enterprises and further improving the environment for start-ups and small businesses.

Our wish is to continue to see the young people of our two nations innovate together and spearhead new businesses and investment opportunities.

They will freely exchange ideas that will help them improve their businesses, their communities, and their governments.

They will find cures to diseases and solutions to the threats of climate change, and they will become leaders in government, fostering a rules-based order that protects sovereignty and peace. This is Shared Prosperity in action.

That future starts today, with the people in this room.

Thank you.

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