Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation for the 117th Congress, led a bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation (CODEL) to Vietnam in October 2022. This was his second time leading a CODEL to Southeast Asia and the final trip of the 117th Congress. The visit took place ahead of the ASEAN Summits and East Asia Summit in November, highlighting the whole-of-government commitment to the region.

Dr. Bera strongly believes that the Indo-Pacific is vital for U.S. national security and economic prosperity and commends the Biden Administration’s sustained high-level commitment to the region. As Subcommittee Chair, he has worked in a bipartisan manner to strengthen ties with Indo-Pacific countries through hearings, legislation, and direct engagements. During the Vietnam trip, Dr. Bera had conversations with high-level Vietnamese government officials, reaffirming the potential for deepening and broadening the partnership between the United States and Vietnam.

Areas of cooperation

Dr. Bera identifies several shared priorities where the United States and Vietnam can collaborate. These include addressing the harmful impacts of climate change, promoting maritime security, and enhancing supply chain resiliency. Regarding climate change, Dr. Bera highlights the devastating effects of global warming on the Mekong Delta, emphasizing the need for assistance in disaster response and resilience-building. He also recommends investing in clean energy development and participating in multilateral forums like the Mekong-U.S. Partnership.

In terms of maritime security, Dr. Bera emphasizes the importance of defending freedom of navigation in the East Vietnam Sea and countering coercive and expansionist activities. He mentions the U.S. Coast Guard’s role in assisting the Vietnam Coast Guard and stresses the need for continuing security cooperation to maintain regional peace and stability.

Regarding economic resilience, Dr. Bera underscores the urgency of minimizing vulnerabilities to geopolitical shocks and trade disruptions. He calls for diversifying supply chains, especially for sectors critical to national security, and highlights the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) initiated by the Biden Administration. Dr. Bera welcomes the commitment to strengthening supply chains and encourages the United States and Vietnam to collaborate with allies and partners to protect their economies and workers.

Looking ahead

Dr. Bera reflects on the progress made in the U.S.-Vietnam relationship since the end of the war and the significant milestones achieved. As both countries approach the tenth anniversary of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership in 2023, Dr. Bera suggests upgrading the partnership to the strategic level to reflect the ongoing collaboration and enhance the commitment to addressing future challenges together.

Furthermore, Dr. Bera expresses his commitment to facilitating cooperation between U.S. and Vietnamese legislative bodies through direct engagements and the exchange of ideas. Despite political differences, he emphasizes the bipartisan support for U.S. partners and continued engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Dr. Bera looks forward to working with his Republican colleagues and Vietnamese counterparts to strengthen the partnership and address the pressing challenges of the 21st century.