Looking back upon 1973, Australia was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam immediately after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. Over the past half-century, the Vietnam-Australia relationship has steadily developed, achieving impressive accomplishments, and the two sides are aiming to upgrade the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (left) meets with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2022.

In recent years, high-level leaders of the two countries have maintained regular visits and contacts at international and regional forums. Most recently, State President Vo Van Thuong met with the Governor-General and the Prime Minister of Australia during the coronation of the monarch of the United Kingdom in May 2023. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also met on the sidelines of the 41st ASEAN Summit in November 2022 (Cambodia) and at the Expanded G7 Summit in May 2023 (Japan). Through these visits and contacts of high-level leaders, the political trust between the two countries has been enhanced, paving the way for strong development in other areas of cooperation, particularly in the fields of economy, trade, and investment.

In 2022, bilateral trade volume reached nearly USD 15.7 billion, a 26.7% increase compared to 2021, making Australia Vietnam's 7th largest trading partner, and Vietnam Australia's 10th largest trading partner. As of February 2023, Australia had 590 investment projects in Vietnam with a total capital of about USD 2 billion. Meanwhile, Vietnam invested in 88 projects in Australia with a total investment of USD 592.3 million.

Australia is also one of Vietnam's largest non-refundable ODA providers. Despite being heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia continues to provide ODA assistance to Vietnam, averaging AUD 78.9 million per year during the period 2020-2022. Over the past 50 years, Australia has provided a total of AUD 3 billion (about VND 47 trillion) in ODA, effectively contributing to Vietnam's socio-economic development.

Cooperation in the fields of defense and security stands out in the overall Vietnam-Australia relationship. Both sides maintain regular exchanges and cooperation in crime prevention and control, customs management, immigration control, combating illegal migration, information exchange, experience sharing, English training, and more. Vietnam and Australia have conducted practical cooperation in the United Nations peacekeeping operations, with Australia providing support for Vietnam's deployment of troops to UN peacekeeping missions.

In order to continue promoting the current development of the relationship, both sides are interested in expanding cooperation to new areas such as climate change response, digital transformation, and energy transition. Additionally, education and training, labor, agriculture, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges are also areas of successful and potential cooperation.

Not limited to bilateral levels, the two countries also closely cooperate, effectively support each other, and share common interests in multilateral forums and international and regional issues. Vietnam's role and position in the international arena have been increasingly elevated, providing impetus for the two countries to collaborate more closely in multilateral cooperation mechanisms.

With a long-standing and extensive cooperation in all fields, the visit of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Vietnam carries high expectations of lifting the Vietnam-Australia strategic partnership to new heights. The visit comes just two months after the state visit by the Governor -General of Australia, further demonstrating the importance of the relationship between Australia and Vietnam. At this crucial juncture, where both countries are poised for new cooperation and an upgrade in bilateral relations, Prime Minister Albanese's visit is expected to consolidate political trust and create new momentum for Vietnam-Australia cooperation across all areas.

Translated by Trung Thanh