WASHINGTON — In a move to solidify the Southeast Asia region against China, the U.S. and Vietnam are working on a regional free-trade agreement that they hope will be done by the end of the year.
Reuters reports that labor and human rights activists are livid over the stepping-up of the free-trade agreements and want the talks to be suspended until their concerns are met.
The U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said, “Vietnam has come a long way in addressing its own challenges to meet the high standards of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), but we still have work to do together”, after meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang.
U.S. President Barack Obama is ignoring his labor supporters, such as the Teamsters union President James Hoffa. The major concerns of the labor and human rights community are child labor, forced labor, sex discrimination, inadequate and unequal wages in addition to health and safety hazards.
The U.S. is working with Vietnam to solidify their relationship and to ensure that the region is tilted toward the U.S. and not leaning towards China, who is building up their military. Vietnam and China are currently embroiled in a dispute over the ownership and occupation of several island chains off of the countries’ coasts, which the U.S. has stayed away from.