|A logo on the 45th anniversary of Vietnam-Australia diplomatic relations was announced in early 2018
2018 is a year of special significance to Vietnam and Australia, as the two countries mark the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic ties. Through the decades, they have built a strong partnership with the establishment of comprehensive partnership in 2009. They signed a declaration on enhancing bilateral comprehensive partnership in 2015.
During the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Da Nang in November last year, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Australian counterpart Malcom Turnbull announced their intention to upgrade the bilateral ties to a strategic partnership, which is expected to be realised during the Vietnamese PM’s upcoming visit to Australia.
Trade and economic partnership is an outstanding example in bilateral ties, with trade revenue increasing 200 times since 1990 to reach US$6.46 billion in 2017 and expected to hit US$10 billion in 2020.
Australia currently ranks 19th out of 116 foreign investors in Vietnam with total investment of US$1.82 billion in 396 projects. The two sides have signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and actively engage in negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Australia has been a regular ODA provider of Vietnam in various fields, including infrastructure, poverty reduction, innovation, climate change response, gender equality and startup support.
In tourism, Australian tourists to Vietnam have increased through years, reaching over 370,400 in 2017, making it one of the 10 leading source markets of Vietnam’s tourism.
Australia is the fourth most favourite destination of Vietnamese students with about 30,000 Vietnamese students. Meanwhile, Vietnam is also one of the five popular options for study of Australian students.
Along with economic cooperation, Vietnam and Australia have enjoyed effective affiliation in all fields of politics-diplomacy, security-defence, science-technology and culture-education.
The two countries have maintained effective cooperation and coordination at regional and global multilateral forums, especially the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC).
In terms of defence, the two sides have expanded their cooperation to many new areas on the foundation of the memorandum of understanding signed in July 2010. Australia has assisted Vietnam in improving capacity to join the UN peacekeeping operations, along with cooperation in maritime and sea patrol. Australia has provided many English training scholarships for Vietnamese officers.
In October 2017, the two sides held the first annual defence dialogue. They are now working to build a joint vision on defence cooperation.
Talking about the upcoming Australia visit of PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc from March 14-18, Vietnamese Ambassador to Australia Ngo Huong Nam said that the visit will affirm Vietnam’s consistent policy of prioritizing the enhancement of relations with Australia, for the benefits of the two nations’ people and for peace, security and prosperity in the region and the world.
The bilateral partnership is strong enough to turn a new chapter, he said, holding that the visit on the threshold of the ASEAN-Australia Summit shows that the Vietnam-Australia relations have grown beyond bilateral framework and are significant to the region and the world.
At the same time, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Craig Chittick said that he is optimistic about the future of the Vietnam-Australia relations, especially when the two sides lift up their ties to strategic partnership. This is a strong effort of both sides to implement their commitments to develop bilateral relations, while creating favourable conditions for both countries to make more contributions for the growth of the region and the world, he said.