As the visit is taking place on the occasion of the celebration of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Australia, it provides a good opportunity for the two countries to discuss approaches to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in all fields, particularly politics, economics, security, defense, education and training and culture.

In recent years, the Vietnam-Australia relations have progressed at a fast pace and in a practical and effective manner.

Governor-General of Australia Peter Cosgrove and his spouse

Particularly, after the two countries upgraded their relations to a comprehensive partnership in 2009 and signed the Declaration on Enhancing the Vietnam-Australia Comprehensive Partnership in March 2015, Australia always regards Vietnam as a key partner in ASEAN, highly values Vietnam’s role in regional mechanisms and wishes to boost its relations with Vietnam.

As a result of the efforts of both countries, the bilateral relationship was upgraded to a strategic partnership in March 2018, on the occasion of the official visit to Australia of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Over the past years, the two countries have maintained exchanges of high-level delegations as well as bilateral cooperation mechanisms, such as the fifth Deputy-Foreign and Defense Ministerial Dialogue in September 2017 in Canberra, the 13th Dialogue on Human Rights in August 2017 in Canberra, the 12 Consultation on Consulate Affairs in May 2017 in Canberra, the consultation on development assistance in April 2017, to name but a few.

Regarding defense and security cooperation, Vietnam and Australia have achieved good outcomes over the past years. The two sides frequently exchanged security and defense delegations, while expanding cooperation on crime prevention and fight, management of entry and exit, control of illegal immigration, experience and information sharing, and English training for Vietnamese personnel.

The two sides have signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in training UN peacekeepers and clearing bombs, mines and explosives left by wars in Vietnam.

Australia is the only country that has its permanent staff at the Vietnam-Australia Joint Transnational Crime Center (JTCC) in Ho Chi Minh City, which helps the two sides quickly exchange information and enhance cooperation in preventing and fighting terrorism, human trafficking and drug-related crime.

Vietnam and Australia are also seeking to find new heights in their economic and trade relations and in a comprehensive manner - Australia is Vietnam’s eighth largest trade partner while Vietnam is Australia’s 15th largest trade partner.

Two-way trade turnover has recently enjoyed an average increase of 7% year on year, and it reached about US$ 6.5 billion in 2017, up by 22.2% against the previous year. Vietnam primarily exports seafood, particularly frozen shrimp, garments, footwear and, most recently, fruit.

Australia is running 412 projects in Vietnam with total investment of US$ 1.8 billion, ranked 20th among the 126 countries and territories investing in the country, while Vietnam has 44 direct-investment projects in Australia, totaling US$ 387.1 million.

Since 2013, Australia has provided some AU$ 92.7 million in non-refundable aid per year to Vietnam on average, one of the largest non-refundable ODA providers to the country. For instance, Australia offered Vietnam AU$ 160 million for the construction of Cao Lanh Bridge. Under its newly-released budget estimate, Australia will grant Vietnam AU$ 84.2 million in the period 2018-19 for projects of economic reforms, capacity improvement, gender equality and livelihood creation.

Education and training cooperation between Australia and Vietnam is always a highlight in the overall picture of the bilateral relations. Australia offers scholarships to Vietnamese students to study various courses in the country. At present, some 30,000 Vietnamese students of all kinds are studying in Australia. Additionally, universities and colleges of the two countries are running 18 cooperation programs.

The overseas Vietnamese community in Australia has a population of some 300,000 people, the fifth largest ethnic minority group in the country.

As the two countries agreed on a work and holiday program, allowing citizens of one country to work during their trips in the other. Last year, some 370,500 Australian visitors came to Vietnam, up by 15.5%, and bringing Australia to the seventh on the list of Vietnam’s 10 top tourist markets.

In multilateral mechanisms, Vietnam and Australia have close and effective cooperation at regional and international forums, such as ASEAN, East Asian Summit, APEC and UN.

The two countries have agreed on supporting each other to run for UN bodies; accordingly, Vietnam supports Australia for the Human Rights Council in the term 2018-20 while Australia backs Vietnam for a non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in the term 2020-21.

As Vietnam and Australia are enjoying good and fruitful relations, the Vietnamese people believe that this visit of Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and his spouse to Vietnam will create a new momentum for the Vietnam-Australia strategic partnership, bringing further benefits to the two peoples as well as contributing to peace, stability and development in the region and world.

Written by Editorial Board

Translated by Thu Nguyen