The Australian representative issued the statement during talks with the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh in Hanoi on May 8.
This marks an important moment as it is the first direct exchange between the two economic ministers of both countries since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
Both ministers worked alongside representatives of their respective departments to assess the results of economic and trade co-operation activities between the two countries in recent times.
Moreover, there were also discussions held regarding the implementation of joint activities in the post-pandemic period through the restoration of supply chains, in addition to strengthening co-ordination within the multilateral frameworks.
During discussion Minister Anh applauded the Australian efforts to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, and to overcome the forest fires which ravaged certain areas at the start of the year, as well as their economic and trade achievements in recent times.
Minister Anh noted that the first four months of the year saw Australian exports enjoy growth of 15% along with recording a huge trade surplus, occurring at the same time as the COVID-19 exerting a negative impact on global trade and investment.
Whilst Vietnam had posted a slight rise of 1.8% in export growth during the reviewed period, Minister Anh added that both countries must devise concrete and effective measures in an effort to obtain stronger results in trade and economic activities moving forward.
The talks saw both ministers focus on key issues relating to opening markets for agro-forestry-aquatic products, removing barriers faced by import-export businesses, co-operating in technology transfer in the energy sector, co-ordinating in line with an enhanced economic strategy, and taking full advantage of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Following this, Australian Minister Birmmingham expressed his great respect for the Vietnamese achievement in curbing the epidemic and enforcing effective solutions to support local businesses in an effort to accelerate the economic development by maintaining supply chains and the export of rice abroad.
These achievements can be considered crucially important, not only for Australian companies, but also for many other countries that are reliant on the import of Vietnamese rice.
The Australian minister went on to congratulate Vietnam on its COVID-19 response and effective involvement in working with other countries to cope with the pandemic as an active member of the international community.
Moving ahead to the post-pandemic economic landscape, the Australian Government is fully committed to deepening economic, investment, and trade co-operation with the country. Indeed, Minister Birmmingham added that this positive relationship results from the Australian Prime Minister’s visit to Vietnam last year in addition to an economic partnership meeting which was recently held in Australia.
Furthermore, the two ministers also discussed co-ordination to speed up the negotiation process in order to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and other contents relating to the co-operation framework of ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand as Vietnam takes on the role of ASEAN Chair 2020.
Both sides also discussed plans to implement additional co-ordination activities in the post-pandemic period, with Minister Anh asking Australia to purchase batches of Vietnamese medical equipment similar to those which have been successfully produced and exported to the EU and the United States to help in their COVID-19 fight.