"Little Saigon would expand," said Frank Jao, the principal developer of the 2-mile stretch of about 2,000 businesses in Westminster that serves the largest Vietnamese exile community in the world. He added there would be more demand for warehousing goods and financial services, as well as tourism benefits.
"Orange County and Los Angeles would become an important distributing point for those goods throughout North America," he said.
Although his dream is to build Little Saigon beyond an ethnic enclave into a mainstream tourist attraction, Jao isn't sure opening Vietnam's trading doors will help him achieve growth to that degree. But he believes more visitors will be attracted there to buy lower cost goods made in the Southeast Asian country.
"I've been advocating to open up full trade with Vietnam, because it will benefit Orange County and Los Angeles," Pham said. He said he has written numerous letters to Gov. Pete Wilson, and talked with his staff members, to no avail.
"They need everything," Pham said. "They need technology, services, things to build their infrastructure and economy. If we open up trade with them, selling things here will give them money to buy from us. So we would benefit."
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Full trade partnership with Vietnam is likely to stimulate growth in both U.S. and California imports and exports, as was the case in 1995 when diplomatic relations normalized. A closer look at how U.S. trade with Vietnam has grown in value. Amounts in millions:
Imports: (1996) $332
Exports: (1996) $616
Imports from Vietnam
* Agricultural products
* Marine products
Exports to Vietnam
* Steel products
* Railroad equipment
* Raw cotton
California exports to Vietnam exploded in 1994 and have since dropped. Totals in millions:
Top five California exports to Vietnam in 1996, in millions:
1. Industrial machinery, computer equipment $14.4
2. Chemicals and allied products 9.4
3. Petroleum refining and related products 4.3
4. Agricultural products--crops 2.9
5. Fabricated metal products 1.4
Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1998 Information Please Almanac