WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department released new regulations on Thursday that formally allow U.S. companies and investors to participate in international development bank projects in Vietnam.
The regulations put into effect President Clinton's September pledge to relax the American commercial embargo against Vietnam. However, under the new rules U.S. companies can participate only in projects sponsored and approved by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.
American companies have been pushing Washington for years to grant freer access to the emerging market in Vietnam. The Clinton Administration's position is that Vietnam must provide the United States with more help in finding the remains of prisoners of war or soldiers missing in action before the trade restrictions will be completely lifted.
After Clinton said he would relax the embargo, the World Bank received about 60 phone calls daily asking about projects in Vietnam, said Peter Stephens, a spokesman for the World Bank's East Asia Pacific section.
The World Bank approved two Vietnam projects in 1993, for education and transportation, worth $228 million. Because of delays in implementation, companies may still apply to participate in the projects. A $100-million loan to help pay for essential imports and a $110-million agriculture project are also under consideration.