The United States and Vietnam have reached an agreement in principle that clears the way for Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization.

The economic agreement, which trade officials hope to sign in June, is one of the final hurdles that Vietnam must clear to join the WTO.

Under the agreement, tariff rates for about 75 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam, including pork, will decline to WTO-bound duty rates of 15 percent or less. Additionally, Vietnam has made numerous improvements to its implementation of WTO rules on sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and has agreed to recognize the U.S. inspection system for pork as equivalent to its inspection system.

To complete its bid to the WTO, Vietnam must complete bilateral market access negotiations and the multilateral negotiations on a Working Party Report and Protocol of Accession. Vietnam also is still in the process of enacting legislation that will enable it to apply WTO provisions after its accession.

Sources: National Pork Producers Council, Associated Press