Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will sign the Joint Statement on establishing the Vietnam – Australia Strategic Partnership during the former's visit to Australia, creating the political and legal framework for the two countries' relations to develop in the coming time.
The information was revealed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in an interview he granted to the Fairfax Media on the occasion of his official visit to Australia and his participation in the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit from March 14-18. He has freshly wrapped up his official visit to New Zealand.
The following is the full text of the interview:
“Question: In 2015, both Vietnam and Australia have mentioned the establishment of a Strategic Partnership. Could your Excellency Prime Minister specify the time when this event takes place? And what does this partnership mean for the two countries? Would Your Excellency Prime Minister share with us measures to promote diplomatic and defense relations between the two countries?
This is the determination shared by both Vietnam and Australia. During my official visit to Australia this time, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and I will sign the Joint Statement on establishing the Vietnam – Australia Strategic Partnership, creating the political and legal framework for the two countries' relations to develop in the coming time.
The upgrading of the bilateral relations to Strategic Partnership is momentous, opening up a new chapter in our bilateral relations, elevating the relations to new heights as well as adding depth and substance to the bilateral cooperation for the benefits of our two peoples, and for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world. Especially, this event takes place when the two countries are celebrating 45 years of diplomatic relations and 20 years of defense relations.
In order to bring the bilateral relations to the strategic level, the two countries should continue to strengthen and expand cooperation in all areas. Regarding the political-diplomatic and defense-security cooperation pillars, the two countries will focus on the following:
First, continue to strengthen political trust and mutual understanding through visits and contacts through all channels and at all levels, especially the high-level. In this spirit, Vietnam welcomes the Australian Governor-General's visit to Vietnam in May 2018 and considers this visit an important foreign affairs event of 2018. At the same time, we will continue to review and promote the effective implementation of the existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms, and on this basis, consider their upgrading or establishing new mechanisms for mutual consultation on strategic bilateral, regional and international issues.
Second, coordinate closely at regional and international forums, especially ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, the United Nations, among others; and work together to effectively implement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP); and at the same time strengthen cooperation on issues related to regional security and issues of mutual concern such as poverty reduction, disaster preparedness, diseases, climate change response, and realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Third, on defense and security, the two sides should actively implement the concluded agreements as well as effectively maintain the cooperation mechanisms; expand cooperation in areas of search and rescue, counter-terrorism, anti-human trafficking, cyber security and water security; at the same time, actively consult with and support each other in regional cooperation mechanisms on national defense and security such as ADMM, ADMM , ARF, among others. Vietnam highly appreciates Australia’s support and hopes that Australia continues the exchange of experience, information sharing, and supporting Vietnam in English language training, and training of peacekeeping forces, and war legacy remedies.
Question: Among ASEAN countries, Vietnam is becoming Australia's fastest-growing export market. Would Your Excellency Prime Minister share your views on the opportunities for Australian businesses?
The economic, trade and investment relations between Vietnam and Australia have seen great strides. Australia has become Vietnam's seventh largest trading partner with a turnover of nearly US$ 6.5 billion in 2017. However, there remains vast room for the bilateral cooperation as well as immense opportunities for Australian businesses to invest in Vietnam.
First, Vietnam is a vibrantly growing economy with high growth rates in the region. In 2017, Vietnam's economy expanded by 6.8 percent, which is the highest rate in the last 10 years. Its geo-strategic location in the region, the political stability and market size of nearly 100 million consumers has made Vietnam an attractive destination for foreign investors.
Second, with the determination to accelerate economic reform and transform the growth model, the business and investment environment in Vietnam has significantly improved. Such economic indicators as the ease of doing business, and competitiveness earned 14 and 5 notches, respectively, thus creating an attractive, transparent and level playground for foreign enterprises.
Third, as an economy with high degree of openness, Vietnam has been integrating deeply and comprehensively into the international arena. The country is currently implementing and negotiating 16 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including many new-generation FTAs, opening up new opportunities for cooperation between Vietnam and its partners, including Australia. The two countries jointly implemented the ASEAN – Australia – New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) and signed the CPTPP agreement, which would facilitate the flows of trade and investment between the two countries.
In this context, the establishment of the Vietnam-Australia Strategic Partnership will bring about new opportunities for businesses of both countries. With the advantage of capital, advanced technology and managerial experience, Australian businesses can take advantage of this opportunity to expand their business and investment in Vietnam in areas where Australia’s strength match with Vietnam’s demands such as high technology, manufacturing and processing industries, environment-friendly energy, among others.
Question: Vietnam is among the economies that would significantly benefit from TPP, but some of them would come from potential economic reforms implemented to satisfy the high standards of the initial agreement. However, the US has withdrawn from TPP, a fact that, generally speaking, has caused the new Agreement to have lower standards than that of TPP. Mr. Prime Minister, can you tell us whether Vietnam will continue to implement economic reform measures or not?
Economic reforms are both Vietnam’s inherent needs and policy, with or without TPP.
Despite the absence of the US, CPTPP remains a comprehensive and progressive agreement of substance and quality, serving as a “model” of regional economic cooperation and integration amidst the rise of protectionism in places all over the world. We see our participation in FTAs, including CPTPP, as the additional driving force for reforms. Therefore, in the upcoming times, we will bolster economic restructuring, perfect legal frameworks and policies, create a level playing-field as well as a favorable business environment as part of our efforts to fully and strictly meet our commitments to trade facilitation and liberalization, and market access.
Question: Mr. Prime Minister, on the occasion of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, can you give us an assessment on the potential for developing the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership in the time to come?
After the upgrade to Strategic Partnership in 2014, ASEAN-Australia relations have been strengthened across various areas, from politics-security, economics-trade-investment to culture-social affairs and development cooperation. However, there remains ground for further improvement and the bulk of ASEAN-Australia cooperation potential is not yet harnessed, particularly in the following areas:
Firstly, ASEAN and Australia need to further affirm their strong commitment to maintaining regional economic integration. Accordingly, the two sides need to effectively implement the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), the first comprehensive framework with a high degree of liberalization ever signed by ASEAN with its partners and from a broader perspective, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), once completed.
Secondly, in the age of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, with innovation-based economic development playing a vital role, the two sides need to step up cooperation in areas such as supporting start-ups, connecting medium, small and micro-sized enterprises, and diversifying global and regional value chains.
Thirdly, the two sides share their views on strategic issues, so as to promote cooperation, build trust and together bring about an open, transparent, inclusive regional architecture, which includes ASEAN-led cooperation forums. Among these, the ASEAN-Australia framework is important to promote efforts in this direction.
Fourthly, cooperation to respond to non-traditional challenges such as terrorism, radicalism, natural disasters, epidemics, and climate change is of mutual interest to ASEAN and Australia. Both sides need to step up cooperation in these areas in order to bring about a peaceful and safe life to their people.
I am convinced that on the foundation of the fruitful cooperation developed over 4 decades, we can continue to broaden and deepen the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership in the upcoming times.”