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Trump voices trade deficit concerns to Vietnam prime minister

Outgoing president seen paving way to impose tariffs before leaving office

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc hold flags as they are greeted by students in Hanoi in February 2019.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President Donald Trump raised concerns about Vietnam's trade deficit with the United States in a phone call on Tuesday with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the White House said.

The United States last week named Vietnam a currency manipulator, a move that trade experts said could pave the way for Trump to impose tariffs on Vietnamese goods before he leaves office in January.

"President Trump raised concerns regarding the trade deficit and urged Prime Minister Phuc to take bold steps to ensure fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and Vietnam," White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

U.S. companies imported about $65 billion worth of goods from Vietnam in the first 10 months of 2020, compared with $66.6 billion for all of 2019.

The United States is Vietnam's largest export market, accounting for over a quarter of its total export revenue in the first 11 months of this year. Its key exports to the United States include garments, electronics and wooden products.

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