Trade will bring better living to Vietnam, says Welwyn Hatfield MP
PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 February 2014
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps hopes stronger trade links with Vietnam will help end oppression and human rights abuses in the country.
Mr Shapps visited the far eastern country last month and arrived home just days before the Vietnamese government passed death sentences against 30 drug smugglers.
Mr Shapps said he had not raised the thorny issue of human rights while on his trade visit and refused to completely condemn the sentences.
“This was of course as a result of a drugs trial and actual court proceedings, but it’s true to say that the UK government does not approve of the death penalty being used in any country,” he said.
“Use of capital punishment is not in itself a reason not to trade with another nation. If it were then there would currently be 35 States in the USA where we would not trade.”
But he did concede: “The country is one of only five Communist regimes left in the world.
“Currently they therefore remain a one-party state.
“People can and are still locked up for arguing in favour of multi-party democracy.”
But Mr Shapps insisted that opening up the authoritarian regime’s markets to the wider world would help Vietnam move from “being a centrally planned economy to a more outward looking nation that takes its place on the regional and world stage”.
He said: “Although it was not on the agenda for my visit, Britain does raise human rights issues with Vietnam.”
Mr Shapps continued: “Trade is likely to be the best path and apart from anything else, it is helping to raise the income of ordinary people in that country.”
He added: “I do think it is right to encourage British businesses to export to the country and in doing so we’ll provide jobs at home too.”
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