Australia Wants to Be Part of Vietnam’s Enormously Bright Future

10:07:49 AM | 1/17/2020

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1973, Vietnam and Australia have built strong and substantive relations on the basis of mutual respect and interest. “The elevation of ties to a Strategic Partnership in 2018 was a significant milestone for both countries,” said Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie when asked about new developments in relations between Vietnam and Australia. Thu Ha reports.

What new developments in relations between Vietnam and Australia have ocurred since the two countries upgraded their relationship to the Strategic Partnership in March 2018, especially after the visit by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on August 22-24, 2019?

The bilateral relationship between Australia and Vietnam, the mutual trust between our leaders, and the friendship between our two peoples has never been stronger. The elevation of ties to a Strategic Partnership in 2018 was a significant milestone for both countries. It reflected an understanding that both countries share a similar vision for an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, and for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. It recognised that Vietnam had become one of Australia’s most important strategic and economic partners in the Southeast Asia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc during his official visit to Vietnam from 22-24 August 2019

Cooperation has deepened since the signing of the Strategic Partnership in 2018. In May 2018, we opened the Cao Lanh Bridge — a joint project between the Australian Government, Asian Development Bank and Vietnamese Government. This bridge has since been helping to connect communities across the Mekong Delta, opening up new trade opportunities and supporting food security. In 2018 and 2019, we were also proud to support and send off Vietnamese peacekeepers as they boarded an Australian C17 Aircraft bound for South Sudan.

Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie bidding farewell to Vietnam’s Level 2 Hospital members before they board Australia’s military aircraft C-17 for the United Mission in South Sudan on 26 November 2019

The Vietnam-Australia Strategic Partnership Action Plan for the period 2020-2023 will focus on three priority areas, including enhancing economic engagement; deepening strategic, defence and security cooperation; and building knowledge and innovation partnerships. Could you share more about the plan as well as these priority areas?

Since the signing of the Strategic Partnership in 2018, the level of ambition for the Australia-Vietnam relationship has further increased. A new Plan of Action for the period 2020-23 is currently under development and will provide a roadmap for how we will meet this ambition. The three priority areas identified — enhancing economic engagement; deepening strategic, defence and security cooperation; and building knowledge and innovation partnerships — reflect our two countries’ existing strengths and new opportunities for cooperation.

As a snapshot of the year ahead in these priority areas, Australia is extending support to Vietnam as it takes on the dual global leadership roles of ASEAN Chair and non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Our Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and Defence Minister will also meet annually to discuss responses to shared challenges and areas to strengthen cooperation.

On the economic front, we held the inaugural Economic Partnership Meeting in November chaired by Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Vietnam’s Minister of Planning and Investment. This meeting provides strategic direction for our booming trade and investment relationship. We are also directly engaging the Australian private sector – including through the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AusCham) – to increase awareness of the many opportunities in Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy. Our shared membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will also help boost economic cooperation by reducing barriers to trade and increasing certainty for investors.

We will continue to ensure that our overseas development assistance works to support Vietnam’s economic development where we can be most effective. For example, through our Aus4Reform aid program we are sharing experiences on Australia’s competition policy reforms to help improve the competiveness of Vietnam’s economy. OurAus4Equality program is helping to increase the participation of women in the economy by better connecting women-led firms to global value chains. Australia is also stepping up cooperation in the new areas of knowledge and innovation partnership. Our new Aus4Innovation program will help foster a culture of business innovation and preparedness for the future.

Given in the context that Vietnam and Australia are undergoing important developments, what is the prospect of cooperation between the two countries?

Parts of Australia have experienced devastating bushfires in recent weeks.  We are very grateful for the outpouring of support for Australia and the Australian people at this difficult time, including from the Vietnamese Government and friends.  The scale and heartbreaking impact of these bushfires is unprecedented, but most destinations within Australia remain unaffected.  Australia remains a world-leading tourist destination, a safe place to study and an attractive destination for investors.  We look forward to continuing to welcome Vietnamese visitors, business people and students to our beautiful country.

Vietnam is a country with an enormously bright future. Australia wants to be a part of this future. One of the strongest areas of deepening cooperation is in trade and investment. During the Australian Prime Minister’s visit in August 2019, our Prime Ministers announced an aspiration of becoming top-ten trade partners and doubling bilateral investment. We are currently developing an Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy to help deliver this ambition. The new Strategy will help both countries grow trade and investment by taking advantage of emerging market opportunities, including those arising from the CPTPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The new Strategy will also help better connect our business networks and enable us to work together to improve the business enabling environment in both our countries. The VCCI, AusCham and other business associations will have an important role in developing and implementing the Strategy. Australia already works very closely with VCCI. We look forward to expanding our cooperation to help ensure all Australian and Vietnamese enterprises benefit from our deepening economic partnership.

On the occasion of Lunar New Year, what messages would you like to deliver to Vietnamese enterprises and Vietnamese people?

To all our Vietnamese friends, I wish you health, happiness and success in the Year of the Golden Rat! I am told that Golden Rats are believed to augur in extremely lucky years, bringing bountiful harvests, love, professional success and new opportunities to lead a more positive life. I hope that in 2020 this rings true for Vietnamese businesses, Vietnamese people and for the growing relationship between Australia and Vietnam.

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

Thank you very much!