Vietnam, Australia elevate ties to strategic partnership
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull signed a joint statement on the establishment of the Vietnam-Australia Strategic Partnership following their talks in Canberra, Australia on March 15 as part of the Vietnamese PM’s official visit.
At the talks, PM Turnbull showed his pleasure to host the Vietnamese Government leader following their previous meeting at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam in November 2017, and at a time when the two sides are celebrating their 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
He said that he is impressed by the Vietnamese Government’s efforts in socio-economic development and international integration, especially the country’s successful organization of the APEC Year 2017.
PM Phuc congratulated Australia on important achievements over the past year, especially in economy, noting his belief that Australia will continue growing in a sustainable and prosperous manner, with higher role and position in the region and the world.
The two sides shared the delight at the strong and substantial progress of the Vietnam-Australia partnership over the past 45 years, with strengthened political trust and strategic interest sharing, which has paved the way for them to lift up bilateral ties to strategic partnership.
They agreed to increase the exchange of high-level delegations through all channels of party, state, government and parliament as well as people-to-people contacts.
In order to realise the bilateral strategic partnership dynamically and practically, the two sides concurred to set up contact mechanisms at the level of foreign, defence and economic ministers, while maintaining existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the diplomatic and defence strategic dialogues, consular consultations, dialogues on agriculture, education and science-technology.
They will continue implement the Vietnam – Australia Plan of Action in the 2016-2019 period, and creating optimal conditions for localities of both sides to promote their partnership.
The two PMs lauded the effective and practical affiliation in defence and security, which shows the strategic-level political trust, through activities of capacity building, English training, joint drill, information sharing, and cooperation among military forces, especially naval forces, as well as visits of Australian Royal Navy’s ships to Vietnam.
PM Turnbull affirmed that Australia will expand training assistance and support Vietnam in UN peace-keeping operations, initially by providing equipment and logistic services to the Vietnamese mission in South Sudan.
Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in coping with common security challenges, including terrorism, trans-national crimes, human trafficking and illegal migration, thus ensuring security in each country and contributing to peace, stability in the region.
The Vietnamese and Australian PMs expressed pleasure at the growth of two-way trade in recent years with nearly 6.5 billion USD in 2017, up 7 percent over the previous year. Australia is now the eighth largest trade partner of Vietnam, while Vietnam is the 15th biggest trade partner of Australia.
Both sides agreed to create maximum conditions for the intensive and comprehensive development of bilateral economic ties, increasing economic interests in the bilateral relations on the basis of the complementary nature of the two economies.
PM Turnbull affirmed that Australia always welcomes and supports Vietnam’s qualified tropical fruits and fresh agricultural products to gain access to its market, and encourages the close cooperation between the two countries’ authorised offices, associations and businesses in increasing product quality and accelerate import procedures, first of all for Vietnam’s fresh shrimp and dragon fruit, and later for other fruits such as longan, rambutan and star apple.
Both host and guest stressed the need to expand investment in each other’s strong fields. PM Phuc asked Australia to encourage its businesses to invest in Vietnam in energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, knowledge-based economy, and science and technology.
Phuc spoke highly of Australia’s official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam, notably the Cao Lanh bridge project which will be inaugurated this year on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.
He asked Australia to continue providing ODA for Vietnam, focusing on infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, climate change, high-quality human resources development and e-government building.
The two sides emphasised closer connectivity between the two peoples through education cooperation, cultural exchanges and tourism development, which serves as a firm foundation for the bilateral Strategic Partnership at present and in the future.
They underlined the importance of education collaboration, with Australia pledging to increase the number of scholarships and support Vietnam in official training and vocational training. They also agreed to boost linkages between their universities and training establishments.
The PMs expressed their delight at the increasing number of Vietnamese students in Australia. Currently, there are nearly 30,000 Vietnamese students in Australia, who have contributed to improving the quality of human resources and developing Vietnam’s socio-economic development, together with 60,000 alumni.
The Australian leader said he is impressed by bilateral tourism growth, with nearly 500,000 Australians visiting Vietnam in 2017. He appreciated Vietnam’s facilitation of visa granting for Australian citizens.
The two sides agreed to encourage the opening of more direct air routes between the two countries’ major cities, and participation in the Vietnam - Australia Work and Holiday programme.
Australia pledges to maintain assistance for Vietnam in high-tech and organic agriculture in the spirit of the Agricultural Partnership, and supports the implementation of the Vietnam-Australia Renovation Partnership Programme.
PM Phuc took this occasion to ask the Australia government to continue creating favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community in Australia.
The two government leaders also exchanged views on regional and international issues. PM Phuc appreciated Australia’s support for Vietnam to successfully host the APEC Year 2017, and congratulated Australia on hosting the ASEAN-Australia Summit with numerous practical initiatives.
PM Turnbull reaffirmed that Australia supports the central role and unity of ASEAN. He hailed PM Phuc’s official visit and the upgrade of bilateral ties to Strategic Partnership immediately ahead of the ASEAN-Australia Summit as a positive and significant contribution to the Summit and the ASEAN-Australia relations.
The two sides agreed to continue with their close and effective coordination at regional and international forums, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
PM Malcolm appreciated Vietnam’s role in pushing the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in Chile.
He urged the two sides to closely coordinate with each other in the ratification and implementation of the pact, expressing his belief that the agreement would benefit its member countries while keeping the door open for the US and other nations which want to join the deal in the future.
Host and guest also reached consensus on the significance of ensuring peace, stability, security, and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea, and settling disputes on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They also showed their support for the early conclusion of a legally-binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).
PM Phuc took the occasion to invite his Australian counterpart to soon pay a visit to Vietnam at an appropriate time. The Australian leader accepted the invitation with pleasure.
Following the talks, the two PMs signed the Joint Statement on the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership between Vietnam and Australia.
They also witnessed the signing of four important documents, including an agreement between the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training and the Australian Department of Education and Training on educational cooperation between the two Governments for 2018-2023. The other three comprise a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Australian Department of Education and Training on vocational education; an MoU between the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on enhancing collaboration in science and technology; and an MoU between the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research in the spheres of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
The two PMs then met with the press on the outcomes of their talks.
PM Phuc stressed that the establishment of the strategic partnership has created a historical milestone in the bilateral ties, helping deepen the two countries’ cooperation in pillar realms, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
Meanwhile, PM Malcolm affirmed that Vietnam and Australia will stand side by side in development, within the framework of the strategic partnership, as well as cooperation mechanisms of ASEAN or CPTPP, for the sake of the two countries’ people, and for security and prosperity in the region.
On this occasion, PM Malcolm hosted a banquet for his Vietnamese counterpart and his entourage.
The same day, leaders of the two countries’ defence ministries signed a document on the recognition of the intention to enhance defence cooperation between the two countries.