HANOI (Commodity Online) : Facing enormous energy shortage, Vietnam on Tuesday signed an agreement with the US to boost nuclear energy production in the country.

According to Vietnam's energy ministry, the deal will help the country to meet growing energy demand as it allows U.S. firms to help build nuclear plants in the country.

The new agreement addresses nuclear safety and non-proliferation concerns and is a prerequisite to a deal that could allow companies like Westinghouse and General Electric to participate in Vietnam's nuclear energy sector.

The ministry said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will attend a nuclear security summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington next month.

Vietnam's demand for power is expected to grow by 16 percent a year until 2015, according to government projections, and the country's booming economy has made it difficult for supply to keep pace with demand.

Vietnam has already signed nuclear energy cooperation agreements with Russia, China, France, South Korea, India and Argentina.

In November, Vietnam's National Assembly approved the construction of two nuclear power plants in the central province of Ninh Thuan.

Last year, Vietnam signed a deal with Russia under which a Russian firm will help build the first plant. Construction is to start in 2014 and be completed in 2020.