[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 196 (Thursday, October 8, 2020)]
[Pages 63637-63638]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-22271]



[Docket Number USTR-2020-0037]

Initiation of Section 301 Investigation: Vietnam's Acts, 
Policies, and Practices Related to Currency Valuation

AGENCY: Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Trade Representative is initiating an investigation 
regarding Vietnam's acts, policies, and practices related to the 
valuation of its currency. The Office of the United States Trade 
Representative (USTR) seeks comments regarding the investigation.

DATES: To be assured of consideration, you must submit written comments 
by November 12, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You should submit written comments through the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov (Regulations.gov). 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments in section IV. The 
docket number is USTR-2020-0037. For issues with on-line submissions, 
please contact the Section 301 line at 202-395-5725.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For procedural questions concerning 
the submission of written comments, contact the Section 301 line at 
202-395-5725. For other questions concerning the investigation, contact 
Michael Gagain, Assistant General Counsel, 202-395-9529, or Marta 
Prado, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia 
and the Pacific, 202-395-6216.


I. Background

    The Government of Vietnam, through the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), 
tightly manages the value of its currency--the dong. The SBV's 
management of

[[Page 63638]]

Vietnam's currency is closely tied to the U.S. dollar. Available 
analysis indicates that Vietnam's currency has been undervalued over 
the past three years. Specifically, analysis indicates that the dong 
was undervalued on a real effective basis by approximately 7 percent in 
2017 and by approximately 8.4 percent in 2018. Furthermore, analysis 
indicates that the dong's real effective exchange rate was undervalued 
in 2019 as well.
    Available evidence also indicates that the Government of Vietnam, 
through the SBV, actively intervened in the exchange market, which 
contributed to the dong's undervaluation in 2019. Specifically, the 
evidence indicates that in 2019, the SBV undertook net purchases of 
foreign exchange totaling approximately $22 billion, which had the 
effect of undervaluing the dong's exchange rate with the U.S. dollar 
during that year. Analysis suggests that Vietnam's action on the 
exchange rate in 2019 caused the average nominal bilateral exchange 
rate against the dollar over the year, 23,224 dong per dollar, to be 
undervalued by approximately 1,090 dong per dollar relative to the 
level consistent the equilibrium real effective exchange rate.

II. Initiation of Section 301 Investigation

    Section 302(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Trade 
Act), authorizes the U.S. Trade Representative to initiate an 
investigation to determine whether an act, policy, or practice of a 
foreign country is actionable under section 301 of the Trade Act. 
Actionable matters under section 301 include acts, policies, and 
practices of a foreign country that are unreasonable or discriminatory 
and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. An act, policy, or practice is 
unreasonable if, while not necessarily in violation of, or inconsistent 
with, the international legal rights of the United States, it is 
otherwise unfair and inequitable.
    On October 2, 2020, in light of the evidence regarding actions 
taken by Vietnam that contribute to the undervaluation of its currency, 
the U.S. Trade Representative initiated a section 301 investigation 
regarding Vietnam's acts, policies, and practices related to currency 
valuation. The investigation will focus on whether Vietnam's 
interventions--through the SBV--in exchange markets and other related 
actions that contribute to the undervaluation of Vietnam's currency are 
unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. In 
conducting its investigation, USTR will consult with the Department of 
the Treasury as to matters of currency valuation and Vietnam's exchange 
rate policy.
    Pursuant to section 302(b)(1)(B) of the Trade Act, USTR has 
consulted with appropriate advisory committees. USTR also has consulted 
with the interagency Section 301 Committee. Pursuant to section 303(a) 
of the Trade Act, USTR has requested consultations with the Government 
of Vietnam.
    Pursuant to section 304 of the Trade Act, USTR must determine 
whether the act, policy, or practice under investigation is actionable 
under section 301. If that determination is affirmative, the U.S. Trade 
Representative must determine what action to take.

III. Request for Public Comments

    You may submit written comments on any issue covered by the 
investigation. In particular, USTR invites comments regarding:

     Whether Vietnam's currency is undervalued, and the 
level of the undervaluation.
     Vietnam's acts, policies, or practices that contribute 
to undervaluation of its currency.
     The extent to which Vietnam's acts, policies, or 
practices contribute to the undervaluation.
     Whether Vietnam's acts, policies and practices are 
unreasonable or discriminatory.
     The nature and level of burden or restriction on U.S. 
commerce caused by the undervaluation of Vietnam's currency.
     The determinations required under section 304 of the 
Trade Act, including what action, if any, should be taken.

    In light of the uncertainties arising from COVID-19 restrictions, 
USTR is not at this time scheduling a public hearing in this 
investigation. USTR will provide further information in a subsequent 
notice if it will hold a hearing in this investigation.

IV. Procedures for Written Submissions

    All submissions must be in English and sent electronically via 
Regulations.gov. To submit comments via Regulations.gov, enter docket 
number USTR-2020-0037. Find a reference to this notice and click on the 
link entitled `comment now!'. For further information on using 
Regulations.gov, please consult the resources provided on the website 
by clicking on `how to use regulations.gov' on the bottom of 
Regulations.gov home page. USTR will not accept hand-delivered 
    Regulations.gov allows users to submit comments by filling in a 
`type comment' field or by attaching a document using an `upload file' 
field. USTR prefers that you submit comments in an attached document. 
If you attach a document, it is sufficient to type `see attached' in 
the `type comment' field. USTR strongly prefers submissions in Adobe 
Acrobat (.pdf). If you use an application other than Adobe Acrobat or 
Word (.doc), please indicate the name of the application in the `type 
comment' field.
    File names should reflect the name of the person or entity 
submitting the comment. Please do not attach separate cover letters to 
electronic submissions; rather, include any information that would be 
in a cover letter in the comment itself. Similarly, to the extent 
possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in 
the same file as the comment itself, rather than submitting them as 
separate files.
    For any comments submitted electronically that contain business 
confidential information (BCI), the file name of the business 
confidential version should begin with the characters `BCI.' You must 
clearly mark any page containing BCI by including `BUSINESS 
CONFIDENTIAL' on the top of that page and clearly indicating, via 
brackets, highlighting, or other means, the specific information that 
is BCI. If you request business confidential treatment, you must 
certify in writing that disclosure of the information would endanger 
trade secrets or profitability, and that you would not customarily 
release the information to the public. Filers of submissions containing 
BCI also must submit a public version of their comments. The file name 
of the public version should begin with the character `P.' Follow the 
`BCI' and `P' with the name of the person or entity submitting the 
comments. If these procedures are not sufficient to protect BCI or 
otherwise protect business interests, please contact the Section 301 
line at 202-395-5725 to discuss whether alternative arrangements are 
    USTR will post submissions in the docket for public inspection, 
except properly designated BCI. You can view submissions on 
Regulations.gov by entering docket number USTR-2020-0037 in the search 
field on the home page.

Joseph Barloon,
General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative.
[FR Doc. 2020-22271 Filed 10-7-20; 8:45 am]