Embargo should go, now

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 February, 1994, 12:00am

THERE will never be a better time than now for President Bill Clinton to lift the 19-year old embargo on trade with Vietnam. The Senate has voted 62 to 38 in favour of doing so. American business is itching to compete with the other nations already pouring money into the country. And the factors militating against ending Vietnam's trade isolation - the questions about Mr Clinton's own avoidance of military service and the opposition of the war veterans' associations - are not going to recede any further during the remainder of his presidency.

Whatever the emotional pressures in Washington, the likelihood is low that Hanoi can do much more to explain the fate of the more than 2,200 United States personnel still described as missing in action. Punishing the people of Vietnam for the past sins of their government is unlikely to predispose anyone to re-opening old files.

Mr Clinton is reported to be ready to lift the embargo. Such a move would be welcomed throughout Asia; it would boost America's prestige and standing in the region. He should not be put off by those who still cannot forgive what they cannot forget.