For the past week, it has been my privilege to lead USDA’s first-ever agricultural trade mission to a country with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies–Vietnam.

I began my trip in Hanoi, where I met with government and agricultural officials and visited some of the city’s most historical and cultural hubs, including the Pho Hue Wet Market, where I was introduced to some of Vietnam’s unique, local cuisine.

From there, I flew to Ho Chi Minh City where I joined 15 U.S. businesses representing a wide range of food and agricultural products. While here, they met with more than 150 Vietnamese producers, importers, buyers, distributers and investors, to focus on building new trade relationships.

For these U.S. companies, the opportunities here are huge. Vietnam is a growing country of nearly 90 million consumers. Two-way trade between our countries reached an all-time high of nearly $3.4 billion last year. In fact, since 2006, no other major U.S. agricultural export market has grown as quickly as Vietnam. And the U.S.-Vietnam partnership only continues to grow.

On Wednesday, I witnessed trade relationships being forged on the grounds of Food and Hotel Vietnam, which is one of Southeast Asia’s premier food trade shows. More than 360 exhibitors from 31 countries showcased their products to nearly 8,000 visitors.

The sold-out, USDA-endorsed USA pavilion at the trade show was the largest to date with 28 companies displaying potatoes, health and nutrition foods, popcorn, poultry, beef, pork, frozen foods, snack foods and more. All of the U.S. products on display epitomize the reliability and high-quality that consumers around the world have come to appreciate and expect.

By hosting this trade mission and others around the world, USDA is helping to achieve the National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of doubling all U.S. exports by 2014. This not only helps rebuild our country’s economy, but also promotes U.S. job growth. After all, every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports 8,400 American jobs.

To learn more, visit the Vietnam agricultural trade mission website.